the first 100 days of a president’s… presidency, are, for some reason, considered to be worth talking about.
an arbitrary number that stems from a misunderstood fdr quote about congress from more than eighty years ago, this initial time period has been used to reflect a first term president’s successes and failures while trying to outline the remainder of the next four years.
our current president’s first 100 days were just up last week, but, coincidentally, i realized that spafford was added to nugs dot net back on january 24th, making today their 100th day on the site, and i think now is a perfect time to talk about what they’ve accomplished in their first 100 days being on this most prestigious application.
now, many of you may be hesitant to continue reading. comparing an 8th tier hambland to the most powerful position in the free world? “stupid,” you’re probably thinking.
well let me tell you this:
i went to an ivy league school. i’m very highly educated. i know words. i have the best words. the previous five years of a spafford-less nugs site? sad. terrible. awful. a total disaster. it was a place for losers.
but the last three months on this terrific app we call nugs, the creators of whom are honored to be great, great friends of mine? huge. you never saw such tremendous web traffic.
it really makes you wonder why
there was a civil war they weren’t on there from the beginning. the only difference between spafford and these other nugs bands is that spafford’s jams are more honest and their women are more beautiful.
believe me, when we get through these shows and this blog, we’re going to make history. millions and millions and billions and billions of jams are going to be covered.
we’re going to take care of the haters and the morons by building a wall… of musical knowledge. i can’t even describe this wall- it’s just going to be a super classy wall.
china. jeb bush. little marco.
being on the nugs app may not seem like a big deal when you explain it to a normal, but considering where this band was just six months ago, this is a massive step forward. by the end of 2017 spafford will most likely have played almost half the total number of shows they’d played the previous six years combined.
going from an audience of thirteen at cranky pat’s square slices and broken dreams pizzeria in neenah, wisconsin last october to selling out shows at the bluebird in denver and the jam mecca, nectar’s, in burlington just last month… that’s not how this usually happens.
and of course, opening for umphrey’s for two months put them on more people’s radar than a streaming service ever could in such a short time period, but having these shows available immediately allowed newcomers to relisten to what they saw in person and confirm what they may have been skeptical of believing for themselves.
was it the energy of the room that made this band sound so amazing? was it because the stripper at the post-show club really liked me this time guys i swear? was it the party favors, perhaps?
nah. they’re just this good.
and everyone’s favorite lopez, lopez, summed it up perfectly when he tweeted “i wonder how many bands had their first and last tour as an opener be the same tour…?”
that’s a slight exaggeration, as it would definitely help to do a few more tours opening for umphrey’s or another band at that level, but there’s no hyperbole regarding how well they played.
mixing in a number of long one set shows and full two set shows throughout the umphrey’s tour gave them the ability to stretch out and not be continuously hindered by the 45 minutes they were allotted each night.
so here we go, as of right now these are all the spafford shows available from my great, great friends over at nugs dot net. you should definitely listen to every show at some point. there are gems everywhere.
no ratings, grades or any other triviality- just an appreciation of the last few months. full shows unless otherwise noted.
also, i ran out of useful synonyms somewhere around the third show so forgive the repeated “sick”s, “nasty”s, “great”s and what have yous. i tried to rein it in but there’s only so many ways to talk about how good this music is.
1/21/17 – 4 song opening set – just their second show of the tour, there’s some solid playing but overall it feels a little restrained. understandable, given the circumstances. great “todd’s tots” though.
1/24/17 – awesome show with a full set finally letting them play the way they’re used to. “virtual bean dip” is a candidate for best jam of the tour, lovely segue into a really good version of “leave the light on,” and an excellent “postman > palisades > galisteo way” to close it out before a double dipper encore. nice little “bee jam” in there too.
1/25/17 – second night in a row they bring the desert heat to virgin northeast ears. “remedy” and “walls” are superb and two of my favorite jams of the tour. “in the eyes of thieves” gets a great jam here and the last forty minutes are pure bliss with the “electric taco stand” alternate ending that gets me every time, a fun “salamander song” and raging and multifaceted “all in” that close the show before red kills the “beautiful day” encore.
1/26/17 – 4 song opening set – interesting call opening with “seven” which has only been played a handful of times, nice “leave the light on,” typically blissful “windmill” peak, and a really good postman. not much more you can ask for in 45 minutes.
1/27/17 – 4 song opening set – nasty “in the eyes of thieves” opener that rages, cools off, jams hard then segues perfectly into “galisteo way.” good “people” into a short and sweet “ain’t that wrong.”
2/1/17 – i have to admit i didn’t even know what “dream jam” was when i saw this setlist, but it got my immediate attention with the nineteen minute track length. just the ninth time this song has ever been played (and only the second time in nearly three years), dream jam sets the tone right away.
probably my most listened to song of the tour, dream jam is a beautiful instrumental that is the perfect song to set the stage for a massive “windmill” in the second slot and a par-for-the-tour fantastic “backdoor funk.” three songs in fifty minutes to open the show? i mean i guess i’ll take it.
“red’s jam” batting cleanup fits perfectly. my favorite version is from 1/1/16 sandwiched in between a stellar “america” and “walls.” give it a few listens, it’s well worth your time.
the always-welcome “weasel > palisades > weasel” combo slides right into a nice “slip and squander” before the show ends with yet another massive jam vehicle, “leave the light on.”
and finally, “todd’s tots” in the rare encore slot closes things out.
wow. this is a hell of a show. i think most of us prefer the slightly longer two set shows, maybe because they feel more complete or something, i don’t know. but spafford has mastered these long one set shows, and they’re almost more fun to listen to if you weren’t there.
again, i don’t know why, but they’ve gotten so good at writing their setlists to mix in just enough of everything that helps make a show perfect, and buffalo is up there at the top with the best shows i’ve ever seen.
2/2/17 – 4 song opening set – excellent “walls”, a cool little jam in the middle of “people,” an exploratory “all in,” and with any other band “remedy” would’ve been an after thought but they slayed this one and ended the set on a high note.
2/3/17 – 4 song opening set – “virtual bean dip” is tight but short and sweet, “legend” is good, there’s a really nice unique little melody we don’t usually get during the last three minutes of “ain’t that wrong” with a segue into a well played “leave the light on.”
2/4/17 – 5 song opening set – awesome jammed out “postman,” nice “salamander song,” the debut of the lovely instrumental “it’s a bunch,” tight “slip and squander” next with a raging “the reprise” out of nowhere to finish the set. sweet.
2/8/17 – “backdoor funk” and “the reprise” kick things off in high gear but the “virtual bean dip” is the big kahuna in this show. it goes in so many awesome directions there’s no point -really though, is there ever?- in trying to describe it. this is a must-listen. it’s crazy how different this one is from the philly version, which is excellent in it’s own right, but in vastly different ways.
“leave the light on” can’t be forgotten either. unfinished, yet another absolutely stellar version. and a huge “walls” to close… wait, this is just set one?!? sweet aunt jemima! just an amazing performance right here. truly exceptional.
set two is very good in it’s own right but it was going to be almost impossible to top what they did in the first set. give it a listen for sure. “lonely” gives the milwaukee version a run for it’s money and “bee jam” gets jammed out to an awesome segue that finishes the “leave the light on” from set one. the always lovely “diana” encores and takes us home.
another near perfect show.
2/12/17 – on paper, charlottesville doesn’t seem to have anything that jumps out besides a fifteen minute “palisades,” which is indeed an awesome jam, but this one deserves to be listened to from start to finish. the “hollywood” into “the reprise” is great, and is, i think, the first jammed out “hollywood” since 10/30/15, making it just the second time they’ve extended that lovely song. good show overall.
2/17/17 – solid aftershow for umphrey’s. not much else to add.
3/10/17 – 4 song opening set – hard to believe this “virtual bean dip” is only 9 minutes bc they take it all over the place, great version w nice segue into “the remedy” that finishes really strong and transitions into a really tight “all in” which then in turn segues into “backdoor funk.” near the ten minute mark i hear a slight tease of the riff that would blossom into the gorgeous bliss jam a week later in l.a. in another great version of bdf.
3/16/17 – 5 song opening set – the band coming out to a standing ovation and not really knowing how to proceed while trying to take it all in, a humbling experience for both them and their fans. opening with “beautiful day” was the best decision they made all tour, and having brendan bayliss sit in on “the postman” was just the icing on the cake. or so we thought, until a drop to your knees and let jesus carry you home level of pure joy erupted in “salamander song.” this is how you do a homecoming show.
3/17/17 – 5 song opening set – “windmill” opener is always welcome. this one has a great jam and peak. a fine “simon & lily” follows, then a tight and high energy “on fire”, pretty basic “leave the light on” until the last four minutes where it kicks into high gear before abruptly dropping into a set closing “hollywood.”
damn. this is getting long. let’s take a break. with some porn.
3/22/17 – san marcos is a solid show, with a nice big “leave the light on” in the end, but other than some very tight and high quality playing there’s nothing else that stood out to me in this one. note that “tight and high quality playing” is used almost as a put down here (though it’s not meant to be), whereas with every other band that’s the highlight. lasers, man. lasers.
3/23/17 – houston definitely takes off from where san marcos touched on, with a lot of great but unextended jams sprinkled throughout. this show had much better direction throughout the setlist, and the playing reflects that.
3/25/17 – dallas is easily the best of these three texas show, as “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” had an awesome and dark little electronic type of jam that segued so nicely into “in the eyes of thieves” that it instantly became a tour highlight. definitely go back and listen to both songs but especially the last minute of phone booth before thieves comes in.
4/6/17 – milwaukee and chicago had the most number of songs i’ve seen the band play in just two shows in a long time, but they did it right. sandwiching “red’s jam” in between “the remedy” to open the show was awesome. the debut of their cover of “sweet” by the cheektones, a local prescott band, was cool too.
set two’s “lonely” is one of if not the best jams of the tour, featuring some really phenomenal drum playing by nick, who really drives this thing the whole way. i didn’t actually appreciate this one, though, until i saw the love it was getting on everyone’s favorite drug band message board.
after relistening a bunch of times i quickly understood why it was getting so much praise. this is the definition of a tight, complete jam with no filler whatsoever.
thanks also to lopez for streaming this one!
4/8/17 – oh hi we’re spafford hmmm let’s see what can we open with here… “crazy”? “people”? “black betty”? nah we’ve done that before. no, wait, it can’t be… tha- tha- that’s “six underground”‘s music! holy hell they opened a sellout show for 750 people in a city they’d only really played in once before with a song from the soundtrack to the motherfuckin saint?!?!?! val kilmer! elizabeth shue! awful costumes, horrific makeup and the worst fake accents in cinematic history! that saint! spafford is the greatest band in the goddamn world and we will bow before them lest our offspring be smitten with the teeth of uncle val’s ridiculous scientist character! hail! hail! hailllllllllll! the spaff from the desert!
yeah i guess they played a fuckin top nutch nut grabber of a show after that. what of it? go listen to it yourself if you want to know how good it was. i’ll be here basking in all this sneaker pimp glory.
4/30/17 – “some kind of jam” got treated to a humdinger for what appears to have been their indoor aftershow. this was the “we traveled back east for one gig so let’s relax and let our big balls flop around for everyone to see” show.
big awesome jams in “backdoor funk,” “leave the light on,” “all in,” “electric taco stand,” giving two of the new songs some love in “mind’s unchained” and “it’s a bunch,” raging “the reprise” as the show closer with a “galisteo way” that left the promoter out of breath while he screamed at the audience to show the band some love as they walked off the stage. good stuff.
i know i said no ratings but that’s no fun i want to start some arguments with you nerds so dig this shit right here:
best opening set: no competition here, there can be only one and it’s the marquee in tempe on 3/16. see above if you don’t know why. stateline 3/10 is a close second with one long segued set, but it was always going to be tempe.
best opening song: “dream jam > windmill” from buffalo on 2/1. 35 minutes of glorious hose filled beauty. can’t top that in my book.
best jam: as i said before, the miramar “lonely” seems to be the spaffnerd favorite, and while it’s hard to argue, it doesn’t stand that far above the rest for me to just go with what feels like the majority. for the last few weeks, the buffalo “dream jam” was my easy pick. then i listened to the philly “virtual bean dip” opener and couldn’t stop playing that one.
several “leave the light on”‘s and “electric taco stand”‘s are in this category as well, but after many listens to make sure i wasn’t overrating it, i’m going with “virtual bean dip” from columbus on 2/8. this is the one, folks, at least for me. give it several listens and really let it sink in. that whole show is astounding and might be the show of the tour, but this vbd really takes you places.
best segue: the 3/25 dallas “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand” into “in the eyes of thieves.” this was an easy one for me. the playing at the end of phone booth is deep and moving while the segue into thieves can go unnoticed for a few minutes if you’re not paying attention. an extraordinary one two punch and the best thing to come from the texas shows.
the buffalo dream jam > windmill is sublime and a very very close second, as is the philly virtual bean dip > leave the light on and the columbus bee jam > leave the light on completion. the charlottesville hollywood > reprise definitely deserves a shout out too.
best show: philadelphia, asbury park, buffalo, columbus, dallas, milwaukee, chicago and whatever town some kind of jam is in, were all treated to B+ or better shows. and no one who’s been following spafford for any length of time will tell you that they’re surprised by this.
everyone who’s just getting on board, get used to seeing this band kill it every single time. it’s a beautiful thing to witness.
but i have to say that buffalo is the closest thing i’ve seen to a perfect spafford show. i’ve listened to it a dozen times, if not more. before going through every show again i already had this paragraph written out, fawning adjectives and all.
but then i relistened to the asheville show. then once more. and once more after that. and after i realized that i’d gotten lost in this show five or six times without even knowing it, i was struck by how smoothly the whole show runs from the opening and nearly trance-inducing “funkadelic” to the ragey and uplifting “galisteo way” encore.
“funkadelic” never gets too high and shows patience by all four members throughout, slowly rolling along until to the end where it segues into “america,” only it doesn’t feel like “america” until more than two minutes in. brian’s staccato riffing sounds a bit like “punch you in the eye” on crack. but the good kind, that doesn’t get you addicted or rot your teeth.
there are several great riffs brian touches on in this jam and after the first listen it may sound like it’s all over the place, and maybe it is to a small extent, but this is the sound of a band that is pumped up, and i’ll take that kind of energy every time.
they cool it down a bit with one of my favorite newer covers, “standing outside a broken phone booth with money in my hand.” from what i heard, this asheville crowd was big and rowdy with many still flying from the umphrey’s show, so for spafford to slow things down like this in front of that crowd takes some serious balls. and phone booth isn’t some three minute breather. this thing goes for more than eight minutes, and luckily for everyone there it does so into a dynamite “backdoor funk.”
bdf gets taken for a ride here, but not until after they develop a gorgeous melody around the five minute mark. bdf has gotten jammed out really nicely this tour and in a lot of different ways. a highlight in a show that is seriously filled with them.
“diana” is perfect before they get back on the horse with a joyous “electric taco stand” and an ocean deep “the postman” that takes several listens for the whole thing to even remotely sink in.
a climactic “galisteo way” as the lone encore puts a bow on this incredible show, so there it is. asheville is my pick for best show of what’s available on nugs dot net. there’s a lot out there that’s still unreleased, so here’s hoping more soundboards continue to pop up.
also, i hope i got at least one you nerds with the “nice aftershow” fakeout above. if not, i guess i really need a new hobby.
best surprise jam: “six underground” baybeeeee!!!! not just a surprise song, this bad boy clocks in at eleven minutes of shocking exploration. i love this band.
best encore: gonna have to cheat and put the 4/22 last exit phoenix show here even though it’s not on nugs.
opening with brian solo on “the man,” the debut and i believe first radiohead cover ever played with “everything in it’s right place” that gets nice and spooky and ultimately segues perfectly into the closing of “all in” from the first set.
sorry not sorry there’s just no beating that, and while there are certainly some encores that are actually on nugs and deserve an honorable mention, closing out the last exit homecoming in this fashion was unparalleled and a flat out treat to everyone there. probably the best encore i’ve ever seen, period.
and while we’re on the subject of the last exit shows, definitely give those a listen [or a watch, here (4/21) and here (4/22)]. the audience recordings on archive are damn near unlistenable, mostly because it was a chomper’s paradise.
the new layout at last exit is perfect, but the combination of chatter from the outside patio that bled indoors and the natural excitement of a very small but tightknit group of people who collectively hadn’t seen each other in a long time made for a perfect storm of loud but happy slurring throughout the night.
if you were there, though, hot damn was that a great time. the “bee jam > midnight rider > bee jam” right after “all my friends” to kick things off was so nice, and everyone loves a “crazy” appearance on top of a nasty “weasel > palisades > weasel.”
and then one of if not the best “postman”‘s i’ve ever seen to open the second night, followed two songs later by the aforementioned and unfinished “all in” that abruptly went into “salamander song” and one of my new favorite covers, “spell yourself” which fits the band and this night in particular perfectly.
not to mention they finished that with an out of nowhere “when the saints go marching in” instrumental tease. last exit live is to spafford what nectar’s was to phish, so if you really love this band then you owe it to yourself to make a trip out here if and when they play there again. ask the milwaukee crew. they’re basically regulars there now.
i gotta say, these 100 days took a lot out of me. who wants to buy night train a slice? cheeses crust i’m hungry!
vibrating with love and lasers,
p.s. i changed my mind columbus is the show of the tour