Toad the Wet Sprocket at Irving Plaza (Wed Jul 29, 2015)
It was (for me) the 90s again last night at Irving Plaza for an hour or so as Dr. MyFiancee took me to hear Toad the Wet Sprocket drop their brand of alternative rock here in New York City. My phone’s camera would not cooperate (selective focus), but I kinda like the pics anyway.
See, this picture is a mess; instead of the wrong thing being in focus, nothing is in focus. Yet, there’s all these colors going on… it kinda has a Monet thing going on. OK, that might be generous, but you see what I’m saying.
I can’t explain it, but I really dig this look. It looks like I colored in parts of the photograph with a highlighter, but this is just what happens when you combine a cell phone camera not up to the task, some motion from the crowd and stage lighting.
Oh yeah, the show – the show was great. They played their required hits (“All I Want,” “Walk on the Ocean,” “Something’s Always Wrong”) and other tunes that I frankly don’t know too well but were enjoyable all the same. Toad keeps up a near frantic pace, at least in part to what Glen Phillips referred to as his inability to come up with quality in between song banter. I’ve seen groups change guitars a lot, but Phillips and Todd Nichols might have set the record. Maybe they do alternative tunings, I don’t know – and speaking of tuning, when they weren’t switching axes, they were tuning up between every song. Always one or the other – tuning or switching out gear. These guys don’t screw around. Bassist Dean Dinning switched out between a five string and… I dunno, maybe a Fender Dimension regular ol’ four string. Drummer Randy Guss would wait patiently or start-up the next song’s beat when appropriate, which was really great for the mood in such a small space. They had another dude with them who played keys, mandolin and lap steel, which was a great addition (particularly the lap steel)… unfortunately, I haven’t been able to run across that guy’s name and I missed it last night.
I found Irvin Plaza’s sound system to be a little lacking in the high-end department. I thought they had a nice level going, but the overall sound of the band never got better as the night went on. A lot of times, you’ll see a show and the first song doesn’t sound that great, but by the time the second song gets going, the sound board op has fixed the problems, but that didn’t happen. There were all kinds of issues, and if the lap steel went too high (in range, not volume), something went crazy – it was an unusual sound, I can’t explain it, but some kind of weird distortion that only occurred when the lap steel went higher than a specific note. But my primary complaint was the muddiness – you could hear the vocals over the instruments, but it never got much better than that.
Still, it was a fun show and I’m glad I got to hop in the time machine for a few hours and remember what it was like back when there were no cell phones, music came on CDs and there was something on mainstream radio besides overproduced pop.