The Orange Peel
Words by Jason Mebane
Photos by J. Scott Shrader Photography & Alex Cox Photography
In each of the two sets there was a MONSTER jam that had the floor of the Orange Peel doing it's best impression of a bouncing trampoline as throngs of Spaffnerds collectively boogied to the musical magic that was pouring from the stage. During the first set it was the combo of "It's A Bunch" > "Ain't That Wrong" which lasted nearly forty minutes. "It's A Bunch" started as a funky low key groove that quickly built into an all out musical assault, before slipping back into a mellower funky groove only to yet again start its ascension to insanity. After three or four rounds of this playful back and forth they really dug into a funky jam that served as a perfect platform for some impressive improvisation between the four musicians. Slowly yet deliberately they eventually found their way to the "Ain't That Wrong" payoff. At this point in the journey the lyrics "I'm on a roll" couldn't have been more true. The dripping funk of "Ain't That Wrong" paired with the intensity of Spafford's state of the art light show, was almost too much to properly comprehend. It was one of those rare moments when it feels like an entire venue is going to lift off and transport us deep into the universe.
Those weren't the only instances that Spafford shined during their stop in North Carolina, but both passages were a perfect window into how Spafford is taking improvisational rock and roll music to new and exciting places in 2019. Sometimes I get bored when bands jam just for jamming sake, but these guys really do it for me. The interplay between the band and audience gives me the types of feelings that I haven't felt from this genre of music in a very long time. Each one of the players on stage has the ability to lead his co-pilots on exciting detours within the greater journey. Over the last few years more and more fans have been hitching a ride for those nightly journeys. Their fan base has been growing quite rapidly and based on what I witnessed the other night there's no reason to believe it won't continue to do so.
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