Sponge and Spacehog recently announced a co-headlining tour hitting a list of venues to wrap up 2013. Joining the bands along the way are up and coming rock bands Lionize and Trapper Schoepp & The Shades. On Thursday December 5th the tour kicked off at The Emporium in Patchogue, NY. Excitement was high for the bands and dedicated fans that turned out to see the performance.
First to walk onto the stage were Milwaukee, WI based band Trapper Schoepp & The Shades. After taking the Milwaukee scene by storm these guys are ready to show the rest of the country what they have. Lead by Trapper Schoepp (vocals/guitar), his brother Tanner Schoepp (bass/vocals), and Jon Phillip (drums). The band took the stage and performed a solid set of well crafted rock songs. With a style that picks parts of classic rock and country, Trapper Schoepp & The Shades were full of energy and surprises. Trapper Schoepp shows charisma as a lead vocalist and all the aspects of a quality song writer. Each song performed told a different story in a poetic manner. Their album Run, Engine, Run is out now and if you are interested in a good old slice of Americana we recommend you checking it out.
Our next act were Lionize from the Washington, DC area. This rock band consist of Nate Bergman (vocals/guitar), Chris Brooks (keyboards), Henry Upton (bass), and Mel Randolph (drums). Rocking out now for almost a decade, this band has an impressive list of full length albums to their credit. Their sound is heavy on groove while keeping a soulful feel. Bergman’s guitar sound is thick while his vocals are right from the heart. Their set was filled with dirty rock tracks that are perfect for a live setting. Brooks’ keyboards add a really nice reggae touch to the band’s sound making for a relaxing environment on some tracks then blasting off into a bluesy guitar solo by Bergman. Lionize are a strong unit made for a live performance and if you are into bands like Clutch give these guys a listen.
The night was just beginning and Detroit, MI alternative rockers Sponge were ready to blow the roof off The Emporium. Lead by Vinnie Dombroski since 1991, Sponge is a band that continues to perform to large crowds and put out quality music. With 7 full length albums to their name, including the certified gold Rotting Piñata (1994), Sponge has outlived many of their counterparts from the 1990’s. Dombroski is a seasoned rock veteran who knows exactly what it takes to write memorable rock tracks, and has done so again on the band’s newest record Stop The Bleeding. This would be an exciting performance for local fans as Sponge came around earlier in the year as part of The Summerland tour, but now there would be a full set allowing a wider range of songs to be played.
The band took the stage opening up with the ripping guitar riff of “Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)”. Jim Hayes (filling in for Tim Patalan) delivered the thick full bass line perfectly as the entire band sounded tight and on time. Dombroski, wearing a hood and sun glasses, bounced on stage with excitement that spread to the crowd. The set continued with a list of classic Sponge tracks mixed with newer songs like “Molly”, “Rotting Piñata” and “Glue”. By this time Dombroski had taken off his sun glasses and had the blood of the audience flowing as well as his band mates on stage. Personable and warm with the audience, Dombroski joked and smiled with the them. “Treat Me Wrong” was a knock out, having fans dancing and bouncing along, with the rhythm and catchy punk like chorus. Guitarist Andy Patalan was as animated as ever making faces and having a blast on stage. It was at this point the audience had the opportunity to hear some of the band’s newer tracks in “Fade From View”. The song is emotional and thought provoking. Dombroski’s voice is deep, clear, and distinctive; leaving you immersed in the moment.
Keeping the magic throughout, Sponge played some more older tunes with “Have You Seen Mary” and “Rainin'”. This would be followed by the band’s most distinct and biggest hit “Plowed”. For many this track defined their youth in the 1990’s. Powerful, aggressive, and fun; “Plowed” is a track for the ages. Dombroski is well aware of the importance of the song and sang it with every ounce of energy in his body. Fans cheered and showed appreciation to the band. The set closed out wonderfully with the new track “Come In From The Rain”. Sponge are still a rock band at the top of their game and well worth catching in concert.
Closing out the opening night of the co-headlining tour was Spacehog. When originally formed back in 1994 in New York, all members were in fact from Leeds, West Yorkshire. Their debut of album Resident Alien (1995) achieved great success and made the band a known name in the alternative rock scene. After a few reunion shows over the years, Spacehog is now official back in 2013 with their new album As It Is On Earth. The album comes to the excitement of their dedicated fans, and a full out tour makes things even more exciting. With original members returning in Royston Langdon (vocals/bass), Jonny Cragg (drums), and Richard Steel (lead guitar); the band has now added multi-instrumentalist Timo Ellis to the mix in replacement of Antony Langdon pursuing other projects.. Fresh and re-energized, the band is ready to show a new generation what Spacehog is all about.
The band came onto the stage playing a variety of new and old tracks. Royston Langdon sang passionately, pushing each song to its peak energy level. The mix of tracks from their discography gave dedicated fans what they were waiting for and more casual fans a deeper look into a highly talented bunch. When Langdon walked over to the piano and began to stroke the keys playing Queen’s “In The Lap of the Gods” it was simply magical. Spacehog did the track complete justice filling The Emporium with an upbeat vibe. Langdon seemed in high spirits performing in front of the crowd and stated how excited the band was to be back out playing live shows again and actively recording new music.
The entire band sounded excellent as a unit. Their brand of rock is very reminiscent of 70’s glam rock which makes for an entertaining live performance. Taking you back in time the band played their break out hit “In the Meantime” to a round of cheers from the audience. Smiling and swaying back and forth to the music, this 1990’s mainstream rock success still holds up in 2013. The set closed out with a mutual feeling of thanks between Spacehog and their fans. It’s great to see a under rated rock band in Spacehog from one of rock’s most unique decades make their way back onto the scene all these years later.