Last Saturday, Missoula's David Bowie tribute band, the Glass Spiders
, played to a blissful room of fans at the Top Hat, rolling out all of Station to Station
, plus other favorites. The show served as a fundraiser for Missoula Community Radio
. (Check out photos from the show
by photographer extraordinaire, Amy Donovan)
How does one describe a Glass Spiders' show? It's not easy to evoke the sheer radness of it all. But Shane Hickey, of Shane Hickey and his Magical Ukulele and Jerry, wrote a gushing note to the band via Facebook, that basically says it all. And it's especially cool because Hickey's other band, Volumen, who played a reunion show at Total Fest last year and who has been around for eons, once did an epic tribute to Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.
So this note kind of carries some weight.
Hickey let us share the unfiltered, uncut show review and love letter. Here it is:
Alright, so during your set (and right in the middle of my drunken glee) I told myself I was going to message each one of the spiders individually to heap praise on them. But, now that sounds like too much work so get ready for a great big post on how rad you guys were.
Let's start with Nick. For all intents and purposes, Nick was David Bowie. His singing (including some really tough stuff to hit) was just perfect and that was just the beginning. Facial expressions, the way he held himself, Bowie dance moves... all of it was just perfect. I don't think I need to say anymore, because everyone knows Nick killed it. Also, I'm trying not to think about his performance because I've done many of these songs before and now I feel like a cardboard cutout version of Nick.
Next, let's talk about Jason, because when I listen to music I listen to vocals first and then bass. I thought I was blown away by Jason's playing. Then I heard what he was doing during "John, I'm Only Dancing." Then I was actually a little pissed. It's easy to approximate bass lines when you are covering a song, but Jason wasn't approximating. It was basically note-for-note and... jeez.. those bass lines don't just hang out on open strings or anything. Fuck, "Space Oddity"... fuck! I think Jason normally plays with a pick. If that is true, and if he only learned to play with fingers for this project then the world isn't fair.
Tom. Not only was Tom a shining star during "Lady Stardust" (which I assume is like the keyboard equivalent of giving a speech to an entire arena, while you aren't wearing any clothes) it also appeared to me that Tom was also acting as a sort of director. Several times I saw other band members look to Tom (arms crossed, singing and knowing _exactly_ where they were in the song) to either reassure themselves that the song was where they expected or to help them find where it was. Tom was the center.
On the other side of the stage was Jenny, Ali and Rachel. They had probably the toughest job of the night. I think back-up singers have it pretty rough, in general, because you don't get to share the spotlight and it's your job to make the person in the spotlight shine even brighter. That has to be tough already. It can't have been made any easier being partially obscured by shadow and without monitor mixes. Hell, I can't imagine what the stage sound was like with so many people in the band. It's really a sound person's nightmare and somehow the house sound was pretty much perfect (although, I could have used a little more of the backup vocals in the house mix). Anyway, I guess I'm trying to say that these three women were the unsung heroes of the show for me.
While we are on the subject of things I could have used a little more of in the house mix.... John Sporman. I'll never understand how some guitar players can be playing badass hot licks and solos but yet still look so calm, cool and collected. John is some sort of Zen master, I guess. Just. So. Cool. Every little guitar lick I wanted to hear was there and it all sounded perfect. Somewhere in the second set I saw John smile and it made my heart dance for a second. I guess he has to be careful with those things because they have the power of the Care Bear Stare.
If John was ice, Travis Yost was fire. Whether it was playing the delicate 12-string parts or just rocking the fuck out, Travis killed it. When I first saw the Glass Spiders (Halloween), Travis was playing drums. He was sitting back, confidently, and just putting all the beats exactly where he wanted them without (apparently) a care in the world. On Saturday the confidence was still there and it brought fuckloads of swagger along with it. Big rock moves and tons of energy. Frankly, I'm a little pissed that Travis can do all of this.
Shit, I'm realizing that I probably should have done this in individual messages after all. For one, it's way too damn long. But, even worse is that by doing it this way I'm putting folks at the end and leaving an unspoken implication that somehow they weren't as rad. Please rest assured that this order is completely random and primarily dictated by the way in which my broken brain puts things together.
Moving on. Ben Weiss! "Hay gang, we need a weird musical Swiss army knife that can play bizarro synth lines, play congas like a motherfucker and also do all of our CB radio vocal lines. Who we got for that?" That's my assumption of how the conversation started that got Ben involved. Ben, with his whistle and cop glasses (TM) just bringing the weird. Because you can't have Bowie without The Weird (also TM). Now, I might be mis-remembering here (because it was the end of the night and I had been at the Top Hat since 6pm) but I'm fairly certain that there was a song where Ben had a sustained keyboard note rocking while he played percussion. So, if I'm Ben and the band is talking about how to split money, I think I'm throwing out the idea that I get two shares, right?
And now for Nathan Hoyme on sax-o-mo-phone. It's so rad to hear Bowie songs with an actual saxophone. I've gotten so used to hearing all of those lines played on guitar (I was guilty of this for 15 years) that it's such a pleasant surprise to hear them how they were originally played. I feel like I need to go back and redact all of my angry, late-night FB posts about how the world doesn't need any more saxophone. I was wrong. I get it. The world needs more saxophone, and I'm sorry.
Finally! Jamie Rogers! I hadn't ever seen Jamie play these songs because I missed the first show at the VFW. I'm terrible at talking about drums because my brain doesn't really grok the way percussion works. I can't count the number of times during practice or songwriting that a drummer will ask me what they should be playing and I just stare back blankly. I literally have no idea how to talk about drums. After having seen Travis play many of these songs on Halloween I was curious what kind of differences I would be equipped to recognize during Saturday's show. Jamie played drums like a passionate whirlwind battery. Being the glue that holds all of those musicians together is a task that I would never want. Jamie accepted that challenge and also appeared to be dropping musical Power-Ups throughout the show to recharge the other member's energies. He was the musical equivalent of the mushrooms from Super Mario Bros.
Phew. I did it. Now, get out there and do it again, you guys. Don't worry, I promise I won't write another one of these things. Also, I'd like to point out that I'm posting this after the 24-hour emotional hangover cut-off, so you know these are my actual (un-amplified) feelings. —Shane Hickey