Delta Spirit Prove That Three Is Better Than OneOctober 2nd, 2014
Delta Spirit – The Bowery Ballroom – October 1, 2014
Why celebrate the release of your new album with one show when you can do it with three? That was the mindset of Delta Spirit, who last night played the second of three sold-out shows at three different venues. This one was in The Bowery Ballroom, which was buzzing after a rollicking opening set from Streets of Laredo. The stage was set up with long floor-to-ceiling white slats reminiscent of a giant picket fence. Nothing more simple, quaint America than a white picket fence, but the reality was much more interesting as the slats became a segmented screen for a series of on-the-fly projections that alternated between arty, dreamlike and full-on psychedelic. Similarly, the band taking the stage: guitars, drums, bass and a little keyboard—nothing more simple, quaint American rock and roll than that. Again, the truth was infinitely more interesting, as Delta Spirit proved to be a force, putting on one of the better rock and roll shows I’ve seen this year.
They opened with a one-two punch of “From Now On” and “Tear It Up,” the former from their new album, Into the Wide, and the latter from their 2012 self-titled release. It was the equivalent of kicking down the door and bursting into the room guns a-blazing. There was a constant churl of electric guitar from William McLaren as Matt Vasquez riled up the crowd like only the best frontmen can. If things seemed a bit more intense during that second song, they were. As Kelly Winrich hopped on a second drum kit, joining Brandon Young in kicking things up a few notches. From there, the crowd was completely in the band’s hands, compelled to sing and clap along as the five-piece mixed up new material and old. As the digital projections spiraled behind them, Vasquez and Co. kept things intriguing without falling back on long guitar solos or extended rock jams. It was a combination of great songs, choreographed interplay among bass, guitar, drums and keys, and just pure manic energy that proved to be totally irresistible.
A highlight middle section centered on “Live On” seemed propelled almost entirely on Jonathan Jameson’s superlative bass playing. Around the time when most Bowery headliners announce their last song, Vasquez informed the excited audience that they were about halfway done. And while that wasn’t exactly true, the next 30 minutes, kicked off by “Language of the Dead,” played out like one long epic closing number: a master course and total deconstruction of how to put on a great rock show. “Children” was the highlight of the closeout, a great display of dynamics, the band waxing and waning as little digital mites buzzed around a surreal cityscape behind them. The encore centered on the new LP’s fiery title track, Vasquez belting out the lyrics with plenty of emotion left in his tank. Of course, the encore featured a trio of rockers total, because why close a show like that with one song when you can do it with three? —A. Stein