Photos and Review by Porter Byers
Spafford showcased their dovetailed skills at the legendary 9:30 club on a cold Saturday night in DC. Each member of the band, including recently added Cory Schechtman on the keys, meshes together to a degree rarely seen in improvisational live music. Even one of the bouncers I spoke to was blown away after a first set jam where they “sat in the pocket and then just took off!”
Opener was Litz, a fourpiece outfit from Frederick, MD, who appropriately warmed up the crowd with danceable grooves. Austin Litz treated the crowd to a hat trick of smooth vocals, at- times otherworldly keys, and a few shifts laying it down on his saxophone (the sax is fixed on a stand for easy transition).
I am from the west coast and was raised on melodic punk and 90s alt rock. So I was surely thrilled when Spafford covered Rancid’s “Ruby Soho” in the middle of the first set. I knew they had covered “Longview” a few nights prior so I was hoping to get something in that vein, though anyone who knows Spafford – and evidenced by the house music throughout the night – is well aware of the influence these genres have on their songwriting.
But Spafford is so much more than just their songs and are perhaps in a league of their own when it comes to extended improvisation and jamming. Look no further than…pretty much their entire setlist from this show. However, the jam highlight of the night, which is a must-listen for anyone wanting to experience the full talents of Spafford, occurred when they took the Dead’s “The Other One” for a massive spin. These guys really can do it all. They seamlessly and creatively flow from rock’n’roll to reggae-influenced dub to funk and disco to electronica, then back into rock’n’roll to bring the house down. You are sure to catch some blues sprinkled-in throughout.
If you are into “jam” bands, or just plain-ole good music, you will want to see Spafford do their thing on stage. This is live music at its finest!