Recap: Spafford Spectacular in Wild Warehouse Show
Photos: Zak Radick
Concert fans had some help getting over the hump last Wednesday when Arizona jam band juggernaut Spafford made their long awaited return to Connecticut, playing two spectacular improv-heavy sets at the FTC Warehouse in Fairfield. Part of the “Sunny Dispositions” Spring tour, it was their first time back in the state since June of 2019.
Opening the performance with a 25 minute banger in the form of “When It Falls”, Spafford wasted no time in making their intentions known. The improv heavy, dance fueled grooves and funk filled sonic exploration on display from the get-go. Guitarist Brian Moss, bassist Jordan Fairless, keyboardist Andrew “Red” Johnson and drummer Nick Tkachyk were locked in from the start, playing with precision and purpose and would seamlessly find their way into the second song of the night, the reggae-flavored “Night After Night.” Perhaps the biggest bust out the night came next in the form of “Smooth, Relax, Down” which has only been played four other times since it’s debut in 2011. Keyboard player Andrew “Red” Johnson would go on to serenade the audience with a melancholy rendition of “Slip and Squander” that reached its crescendo after about ten minutes and brought us to intermission.
After a brief set break, the members of Spafford causally returned to the stage ready to pick it up a notch. As Moss launched into the tasty opening riff of “Eclectic Taco Stand,” excited fans were eager to sing along to the song’s anthemic chorus. “As the times go by, you broke my heart.” From here on out it was vintage Spafford, bass player Jordan Fairless now reaching down for an extra-filthy groove that the rest of the band immediately latched on to, resulting in a mesmerizing, high-energy, jam-tronica type vibe for the next 15 minutes or so, before the band weaved directly into another fan favorite, “Dis Go in 5,” which featured Moss absolutely shredding “The Raven” — his custom built Thomas Milana guitar, before the band would return to ‘Taco Stand” and complete the sandwich. Up next, came perhaps the centerpiece of the night’s performance, a soulful, mid-tempo rendition of “It’s a Bunch,” from their 2018 studio album For Amusement Only. Taking the audience on a musical journey, each member of the band had a chance to shine here, playing off each other like a well-oiled unit, toying with tempos, yet always remaining cohesive and moving through transitions as a group.. As the lengthy, yet never boring jam surpassed the 20 minute mark, we could slowly hear Spafford working towards the opening notes of “Mind’s Unchained,” reaching another blistering Moss-led climax to end the set.
Thirsty for more, Red would address the crowd before the encore. Stating that he was given a different setlist than the other guys, and that he was having such a good time jamming during the first set, he prematurely sent us to intermission. So instead of the originally planned encore, “Funkenseven” they were going to play the song he skipped. With that, Spafford closed out the evening with a massive version of “All In.” A great end to a wild Wednesday night at the Warehouse.
Spafford’s East Coast swing continues on for the next few weeks and features dates in Baltimore, Maine, Burlington, Syracuse as well as New York City’s posh Sony Hall. In a scene that’s become a bit bloated in recent years, when everyone else is out there playing checkers, Spafford is here playing chess. With the band currently firing on all cylinders, it’s strongly suggested you make the time and find a way to see what all the fuss is about. You won’t be disappointed.
4/13/22 | The Warehouse | Fairfield, CT
Set I: When It Falls > Night after Night, Smooth, Relax, Down, Slip and Squander
Set II: Electric Taco Stand > Dis Go In 5? > Electric Taco Stand, It’s A Bunch > Mind’s Unchained
Encore: All In