Delta Spirit Buzzes Webster Hall [3/29/12]

Posted on: April 2nd, 2012 at 11:23 am by

Four years after first hearing Ode to Sunshine, the debut album by San Diego-based Delta Spirit, the album is still in heavy rotation, and is easily a diamond in the rough of the last decade. It’s an intimate “log cabin” type affair, and reliable as an old friend.  Unfortunately, the quintet – Jon Jameson, Brandon Young, Matthew Vasquez, Kelly Winrich, William McLaren – is seemingly following a familiar trajectory. While the followup was also a great listen, the most recent is more of a polished sonic breakthrough, exploring the realm of the music mainstream. Delta Spirit is now touring in support of this eponymous third record, and stopped by Webster Hall last Thursday evening for some love.

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To be honest, we had reservations about how the roots-rock acoustic sound of the earlier songs would translate to a more heavy live show. But the five-piece totally pulled it off without missing a beat. Opening with “Empty House,” the seventeen-song set was mainly composed of newer material, yet was still peppered with some of the band’s more token standbys. The first set also included Boogie faves “Bushwick Blues,” “Strange Vine,” “People, C’mon,” and the bittersweet “House Built for Two” which Vasquez dedicated to his mom. “California” rounded out the top of the night, with Vasquez donating his Fender to one lucky fan in the front row. Noticeably missing, however, was the Springsteen-infused anthem “People, Turn Around.”

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Returning to the stage for the encore, the five-piece then performed “Devil Knows Your Dead,” “Money Saves,” and “Trashcan,” the latter of which utilized a metal trash lid a la Stomp.

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Our one qualm was the percussion section. Drummer Brandon Young pounded the skins with timpani mallets for maximum effect, with keyboardist Kelly Winrich doubling duty at certain points in the night.  We didn’t completely understand this dual drum attack, as the mix was nearly impossible to hear during these clamorous moments.  Especially the highly-energetic vocals, which, at various points, reflected a scratchy Cobain-esque delivery.

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Pound for pound, though, Delta Spirit delivered a tight, enjoyable performance.

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