Toadies - Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale - May 16
For the MP3 generation, albums don't mean diddlysquat. Playlists go from genre to genre, artist to artist, decade to decade, from Frank Sinatra to Beyonce to Kiss. But there was a time when music was consumed in one large gulp whether by vinyl, cassette, or CD. And in a current trend, older touring bands frequently promise to perform one of their classic albums in its entirety.
Toadies, jumped on to this craze with a tour that arrived at Culture Room Friday night celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their most famous work Rubberneck. The four members of the Fort Worth, Texas band took the stage at 10:45. Singer/guitarist Vaden Todd Lewis with his spectacles and casual dad jeans had the mild mannered look of a high school principal or pharmacist, but from the first utterance out of his mouth, it was obvious he still had the beast within him.
See also: The Toadies on Recording Rubberneck: "Like Kids in a Candy Shop"
Singing, no growling, an album's worth of American gothic religious imagery, he along with the furious drumming of Mark Reznicek and newer members guitarist Clark Vogeler and bassist Doni Blair (who weren't involved with the recording of Rubberneck) gave the audience exactly what they were looking for, a note for note time capsule of the end of the grunge era.
The crowded room sang and jumped along with the memorized lyrics which were almost audible over the amplified yells of Lewis. The only difference between this performance and the album was a longer lapse between songs due to a change of guitar or a swig of beer.
One of the criticisms you could offer a band playing an old album track by track is the lack of spontaneity. There are those who love rock and roll for its uncertainty and wish to be surprised by which song they hear when they see a band with a deep catalogue. Toadies had a response for those critics as after they wrapped up their rendition of Rubberneck in 40 minutes, they continued to play another dozen songs from throughout the rest of their twenty year history and even threw in a cover of Blondie's "Heart of Glass" for good measure.
Openers Supersuckers are another casualty of the '90s who never hit it as big as Toadies, but not for a lack of talent or stage presence. They play a filthy, hairy style of rock that would fit in any bar you'd be scared to walk into.
Under the shadow of a black cowboy hat and sunglasses singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti urged the crowd to stick up their middle fingers during a song as they played in front of a video projection of television host Mr. Rogers flipping the birdie. They karate kicked through a riff from the James Gang song "Funk #49" and told the crowd it was their drummer's birthday, adding that if we didn't bring a gift, there were plenty of things within the confines of the bar that you could offer him. When asked what he might like, the drummer said, "Tequila." Then reconsidered, "I'd also take cocaine."
Supersuckers never had a classic album that likely people outside their immediate families could recite, nor did they have a song that was able to sneak its way on commercial radio the way Toadies "Possum Kingdom" did, but on this night, opener and headliner were equals. Each providing solid doses of tight music able to melt impressionable minds.
"I Come from the Water"
"Push the Hand"
"Song I Hate"
"Summer of the Strange"
"Heart of Glass" (Blondie cover)
"Stop It" (Pylon cover)
"Hell in High Water"