Let’s just put this right out there. I have this concept about music being, “in the moment, as good as it gets.” Sometimes it’s a song, or a sequence of songs, or a set.
Last night, it was the entire performance. I don’t think I’ve ever heard an evening of music I liked MORE than S.P.O.R.E. at the Ringside Cafe on Thursday (March 31st). Stunning, incredible, awesome. Stack up those superlatives. I’m going to use them all.
[For a variety of reasons, this review got sidetracked. I am finally finishing it, because this was too amazing to let slip.]
S.P.O.R.E. are: Steven Honig, bass; Jeremy Kairalla, guitar; Chris Richard, drums; and Alex Sears, keyboards and flute. They describe themselves as a “live instrumentated electrofunk jam band.”
I’ve been fortunate to hear them a number of times, including three magnificent performances in February, so we were pumped to catch them on a Thursday at the Ringside. The soundcheck alerted me to the fact that this show was going to melt faces.
I sent my speculative setlist below to Chris Richard, but theirs was misplaced, and many were jams, he thought. He said to go with mine! So we will.
Set one roared out with some deep, deep funk, kicked off by Richard, then Kairalla reminding me one again why he is one of my most favorite guitar players anywhere. “Domoto” got everyone moving with its pulsating trance, and the set just got better and better. Five tunes in, Alex Sears was abusing his clavinet on a really chunky funky tune. As it decelerated slightly, clavinet and then synthesizer wrangled with guitar.
Steve Honig (bass) was huge on the next song, which also featured some great guitar feedback from Kairalla. The set closed with a funking three-quarter speed rocker.
“Here’s the Thing” opened the second set. And here’s the thing: there is no way for a quartet on stage to know if a sound engineer is doing the band justice or not. Sound was adequate most of the set, but Honig’s bass was waaaaay too loud for a brief period. Nonetheless, it was a hot tune. “Jah-Bim-Ka” is on their recent album, and Kairalla launched this one into the stratosphere. “Hamster Hash” is a ska-ish funky romp dominated by synthesizer and bass, and that was followed by the bouncing “Tainted Pitties.” (All three of these are on the new album.)
My notes about “Breakthrough” say ‘deepest funk ever,’ although I would have to amend that during the third set. The second set finished with “Respect,” a tremendous tune that again let Kairalla shred and work in some great feedback as well. It was a rave-up.
What could they possibly have left for set three? The first song was simply stunning. Mind-blowing. “Wait For It” always sounds great, and this had a superb ending as well. And then the amendment: THIS was the deepest funk ever. Richard and Honig were driving the pace at breakneck speed, Sears and Kairalla dancing on top of the groove. And they saved “Ethereal” for last, a song perfectly named.
Chris Richard often says, “We’re S.P.O.R.E. from Jacksonville. EAT MORE S.P.O.R.E.!”
I say, “GO SEE THIS FABULOUS BAND!”
[S.P.O.R.E. ONE: 1, Domoto, 3, 4, 5 chunky funk w/ clavinet, 6 guitar feedback, 7 rocker funk; TWO: Here’s the Thing, Jah-bim-ka, Hamster Hash, Tainted Pitties, Breakthrough, Respect; THREE: 1 wow, Wait For it, 3 deepest funk ever, Ethereal]