Toad the Wet Sprocket & Rusted Root Light Up Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 7-10-16 w/ Luke Wade

Toad the Wet Sprocket & Rusted Root Light Up Marquee Theatre Tempe, AZ 7-10-16 w/ Luke Wade

The year 2016 certainly has grabbed the attention of the music world with so many well-known acts celebrating longevity and career-defining albums’ anniversaries. Together, these festivities have inspired old and new music fans alike to come together and celebrate. One such celebration which is on its way all year long is in honor of the 30th anniversary of Alternative Rock darlings Toad the Wet Sprocket. Come together back in 1986 out in Santa Barbara, California, Toad the Wet Sprocket were a band from the start that never really fit the scene of the time, making them unique, and more than likely helping them stand out. Coming into their own at the dawn of the Grunge era, they dropped their third studio album, fear, in 1991 and attained platinum status. Now twenty-five years after the album’s release, Toad the Wet Sprocket is still going strong, touring around the USA, to the delight of fans.

By their own admission, it has been a long time since anyone has played any new Toad the Wet Sprocket music on the radio, but that is ok, because this band transcends radio into something much more special. All that said, Toad the Wet Sprocket take to the road in July in honor of their two anniversaries and, stacking the deck high, they team up with spiritual rockers Rusted Root. Rusted Root, who are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of their 1996 gold-selling album, Remember, teamed up for a list of shows through the entire month that excited the western portion of the USA in an exceptional way. Early on in the run, on Sunday July 10th, the event began to take shape at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe, Arizona with an audience nearly bound into several groups of “guys night out” and “ladies night out.” While the majority of the attendees were young adults, a few brought along their kids to enjoy the evening of music, memories, and good times as Luke Wade, Rusted Root, as well as Toad the Wet Sprocket came together under one roof.

First to the stage was a musician by the name of Luke Wade. Coming from a small town out of Texas, ordinarily Wade is backed by his band No Civilians. However, on this tour, Wade was to shine his own brand of music… much like the Texas star. Those unfamiliar with the artist, Wade comes from a very artistic family, as his father was a painter and his mother a dancer.  He embraced dancing, but an incident occurred that left him blind in one eye, thus Wade turned his creative energies to music. Taking a chance, he appeared on The Voice, and really began to solidify his true calling as a result.

A very astute performer, Wade’s lyrics are written deep from within the core of his own passionate soul. Truly a rhinestone that shined early in the evening, as many fans cheered him on and were taken in by his presence and music. His ability to convey an appreciation for life poured out to connect with his audience. Performing tracks from his two albums, 2010’s Tomorrow’s Ghost and 2014’s The River, Wade was delightfully enchanting as well as skilfully interjected with a direct intention. Wade continues to support Toad the Wet Sprocket and Rusted Root through August, so fans are urged to arrive early to see what he is all about.

Up next was the uplifting band known to all as Rusted Root. Together for over 25 years now, Rusted Root has seen their growth challenged like any other band along the way, however, the band has met the challenge, having sold over 3 million records worldwide. Hailing from the state of Pennsylvania, Rusted Root has brought together a unique blend of Rock, Acoustic, and World-style fusions with a strong percussion boldly settled in the crux of their mode. It would seem, a better way to describe Rusted Root would be to say they are more of a movement, one of sounds that brings together people. It is very much a commonality of sorts found in the mixture of their heart and soul. Maybe a bit hippish? Perhaps, but their passion illuminates a warmth of wholeness and compassion for others, animals, the planet, and even for our own selves.

Michael Glabicki (lead vocalist, guitar, harmonica, mandolin), Patrick Norman (bass, backing vocals, percussion), Liz Berlin (percussion, backing vocals), Cory Caruso (percussion, backing vocals), and Dirk Miller (guitar, backing vocals), in a collaborative effort, came to the stage with their fearless conceptual fusions of music. Opening with “Drum Trip,” they mixed things up going into songs such as “Laugh As the Sun,” “Ecstasy,” and “Rain” later on. Moved by the song selection, fans danced, sang, and raised their hands as they shook their hips with smiles.

Continuing on, they offered “Voodoo,” off of the Remember album, along with “Cover Me Up,” from 2012’s The Movement, and “Blue Diamonds,” lifted from 2002’s Welcome To My Party. While the music kept coming, many in the audience felt they were certainly getting the best of Rusted Root, as comments were overhead of spectators asking for more. Gracious for the positive reception, Rusted Root did give more and by the time the set was concluded, everyone was cheering in delight as many even hugged one another. Speaking of which, the covers Rusted Root chose to sprinkle amidst their originals were met with open arms as Glabicki honored David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” along with a ruddy, grand rendition of Elvis Presley’s “Suspicious Minds.” Not to be forgotten, of course Rusted Root played “Martyr” and wrapped up a most rapturous set with “Send Me On My Way.” From start to finish, Rusted Root’s enjoyment of making music beamed like a light of hope all night long. No matter what one’s beliefs may be, an evening with Rusted Root is one of genuine good vibrations not to be missed.

To top off this momentous gathering of songs, reunions, friends, and enjoyable times, headliners Toad The Wet Sprocket were ready to celebrate fear. Instead of opening a bottle of whiskey or lighting the candles upon an iced cake, Toad The Wet Sprocket decided the way to celebrate fear was to play a wide selection of songs from the breakout album, plus favorites from their vast catalogue. Their loyal fans, who simply refer to the band as “Toad,” were a buzz even before the show began, many humming the hits “All I Want” and “Walk On The Ocean” outside the venue doors. That being said, the mood was stress-free as everyone left their trouble outside as they prepared for Toad’s performance.

Coming out to a roar of applauds, Glen Phillips (lead vocals, guitars), Todd Nichols (lead guitar, vocals), Dean Dinning (bass, vocals), and Randy Guss (drums) were in high spirits as they lifted off with “Good Intentions” before “Crowing.” Two early years selections were fitting to break the ice, paving the way for newer music such as “The Moment,” “California Wasted,” and later on, the newest, “Architect of the Ruin.” Like puzzle pieces snug in between Toad classics, everyone received the new music just as well. Letting their personalities shine through, the members of Toad the Wet Sprocket joked around with one another on stage between songs. All unique to one another, it showed in the songs as they played on with “Is It For Me?,” “Windmills,” and even a  new Phillip’s solo track, “Amnesty.”

Keeping the audience engaged, the set moved on without a hiccup as they delved further into fear with “Nightingale Song” and “All I Want,” but before the wonderful harmonized “Something’s Always Wrong” as well as “Come Back Down.” Seeming as if they could do no wrong, they exploded into the heavier “Fall Down,” where more people danced without a care in the world. Elated, cheers came pouring down, but it seemed Toad’s time was up, or was it? With that, the band quickly returned for an encore that was highlighted by a cover of Roger Miller’s “Nothing Can Stop My Love,”  “I Will Not Take These Things For Granted,” and of course, “Walk On The Ocean.”

Who would have imagined that four teenagers who loved to watch Monty Python would take a fictional band name from that show and, in 1986, create a real band? A smart move, a name brought together as a joke, has gone on to become one of the most Alternative music’s most beloved bands. What makes this Toad The Wet Sprocket tour truly unique is that it appeared each fan could find some part to identify within this mix of bands. As for the show at Marquee Theatre, it was an evening embraced by songwriting, World Fusion, and celebration. With more dates continuing into August, it is a Rock jubilation tour not to be missed.



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Song River
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Song River has over thirty years combined experience in photography and writing, from music to politics and everything in between. She is the owner of CowGirlZen Entertainment, a registered business that focuses on photography for both musicians and families, and also offers PR/social marketing/bios/press. Currently a photojournalist for several music magazines and a publicist/A&R for High Road Publicity. In her downtime, you might find her helping the homeless, volunteering to aid the elderly, hiking in the desert mountains, taking care of her family, cooking new dishes, gardening, beach combing, amateur astronomy, and traveling with her Nikon by her side at all times.

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