July 27, 2015 Toad the Wet Sprocket Fun Evening at The Paramount Huntington, NY 7-16-15
When Santa Barbara, California natives Toad the Wet Sprocket chose their name from a Monty Python sketch known as “Rock Notes,” they did so as a gag. No one expected the name would stick as long as it has, but nearly three decades later the Alternative Rock band is known as one of the most recognized from the ’90s era. Consisting Glen Phillips (vocals/guitar), Todd Nichols (guitar), Dean Dinning (bass), and Randy Guss (drums), the four musicians initially met in high school before forming the band in 1986. Releasing their debut full-length album entitled Bread & Circus in 1988, they caught the eye of Columbia Records, thus resulting in its re-release a year later. Sticking out among the other acts in the Alternative Rock scene at the time, who were more along the Grunge Rock side, Toad the Wet Sprocket did their own thing, and as the band grew in popularity, their sound continued to mature. Releasing Pale in 1990, the old adage “third time’s the charm” proved to be true as 1991’s Fear would attain commercial success and a platinum status. Following up in 1994 with Dulcinea, Toad the Wet Sprocket would reach top spot on the US Modern Rock charts, proving the band was here to stay. Sadly for fans, after the release of Coil in 1997, the band parted ways to dive into other projects.
Performing off and on for years, the buzz around the touring Toad the Wet Sprocket did caused their followers to wonder if there would ever be an official reunion. Happening organically, the band came back for good in the late 2000’s with regular touring, and in 2013, returned with their brand new album, New Constellation. Splitting time between solo gigs and recording, 2014 saw them hit the road with Counting Crows for the Summer, but 2015 saw a new tour with the likes of Tonic and Smash Mouth. While that string of shows is now complete, the band continues headlining gigs though August, and on Thursday July 16th came to Huntington, New York to perform at The Paramount. Marking their first visit ever to the venue, and first time in a long time as a full band visiting Long Island, it was a special night in the making.
Before Toad the Wet Sprocket could grace the stage, the growing crowd was treated to the Power Pop music of A Fragile Tomorrow. Originally from Montgomery, New York, the band formed over a decade ago and have released four full-length albums, and their most recent EP in 2014, Belgique. Consisting of Shaun Rhoades (bass/vocals) and the three brothers Sean (vocals,guitar), Domenic (drums,vocals), and Brendan Kelly (guitar,vocals), this would be a special night for the band, marking their first visit to Long Island.
Showing inspirations from several different genres of music, A Fragile Tomorrow carve their own niche and sound. With a new album entitled Make Me Over looming in the near future, the band used their time to give the crowd a great taste of what they were all about. Opening with forthcoming album title track, and going into “Tie Me Up Again, as well as “Kissing Games,” the new material immediately grabbed everyone’s attention. Continuing on, all four members lending vocals to tracks like “Tell Me How to Feel,” “Siouxsie,” and “Billion,” providing for a rich sound. By the time their set concluded with “Can’t You Hear Me,” A Fragile Tomorrow had completely won over the crowd. Those interested in more from the band, Make Me Over is set for releases on October 16th and is available for pre-order right now on PledgeMusic.com. The album will include a bonus track featuring Joan Baez and The Indigo Girls. Also, those who pre-order will see exclusive content in the form of unreleased studio videos, photos, and stories.
After a short break, a barefoot Glen Phillips led Toad the Wet Sprocket to the stage as he looked to be in high spirits. Having visited the Long Island area a mere two months prior solo, many familiar faces came out this time to see Phillips and the entire band. Opening with “Good Intentions,” the crowd quickly joined in to sing along, and would not stop until the end of the set. Playing fan-favorites spanning their career, the band had the Long Island audience in the palm of their hand as they continued with the upbeat “Whatever I Fear” and “Something’s Always Wrong.” With the addition of keyboards from touring member Jonathan Kingham, each track was well-rounded as Nichols and Dinning dazzled with backing vocals.
Stopping to speak with those in attendance, Toad the Wet Sprocket kept the mood loose as Phillips playfully cracked jokes, displaying his colorful personality. Jamming on through new tracks like 2013 single “Architect of the Ruin” and “California Wasted,” Toad the Wet Sprocket showed they still possesses the ability to bring quality compositions to their fans. Well-received by the audience, many were more than familiar with the tracks off New Constellation, and now wonder if another full-length album is a possibility in the years to come. Delicately taking the room on a ride, older pieces like the tingling “Nanci” and “Brother” came before long standing hit “Come Back Down” and toe-tapping Fear track “Nightingale Song.” Keeping everyone’s full attention, they played the mainstream adored “All I Want” as the crowd was brought back into their past, perhaps recalling the first time they heard the track on the radio.
Closing their main set off with rocker “Fall Down,” the band left the stage to raucous applause. Knowing there would be more coming, those in attendance eagerly awaited as Toad the Wet Sprocket prepared to join on the stage one last time. Returning with Sean and Domenic Kelly of A Fragile Tomorrow, the two led back-up vocals on another newer piece,“I’ll Bet On You.” The two brothers were visibly excited at the opportunity and took the time to enjoy performing with a band that they grew up listening to. After the brothers left, Toad the Wet Sprocket went on to play one final hit with “Walk on the Ocean” before thanking all who came out. As the lights came up and Art Garfunkel’s rendition of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” played over the speakers, paying homage the band’s beginnings, the crowd slowly filed out of The Paramount, happily talking about the great night.
With a huge library at Toad the Wet Sprocket’s disposal, each show brings something new for fans lucky enough to see them perform live. Staying true to their lighthearted stage presence, the band’s signature harmonized vocals were as potent as ever, bringing the right textures to each song. Recently releasing a surprise six track EP in June, there is hope Toad the Wet Sprocket may bring devoted fans another new full-length at some point in the future. In the meantime, be sure to get out and see this underrated band live.