Take the fastest rising jamband in recent years, add in a hot prog-rock band boiling over with talent, a classically trained pianist performing the music of Phish and The Grateful Dead, and a cross-genre reggae singer and you have the fixings for one of the best nights of live music The Capitol Theatre has seen this year, and that’s saying a lot.
The night began with Holly Bowling’s performance at Garcia’s, a benefit for The White Light Foundation, Twiddle’s charitable wing. Being that this was Garcia’s, Bowling offered a spirited mashup of “Help on the Way” > “Slipknot” > “Theme from the Bottom” > “Franklins Tower” and a full Terrapin Station suite. Phish’s “Taste”, a newer addition to her repertoire was full of energy, as was the set closing “Harry Hood”, which found Twiddle keyboardist Ryan Dempsey joining for the latter portion of the song, leading to true keyboard cavalry between the two who enjoyed the dual experience immensely as evidenced by their ear to ear grins.
The remarkable talent of TAUK is something that continues to translate well directly from their studio albums, with an exclamation point placed firmly upon their music in the live setting. Fans gaped in awe at the musicianship performing an opening hour long set. “Eleanor Rigby” -> “In Bloom” capped off their set, a familiar appearance in setlists, and one that beckons for more variety from this quartet who have immense talent contained within to stretch into unfamiliar territory.
While a sell out of the Capitol Theatre is a goal for any rising or established band, it’s not like Twiddle hasn’t played to larger audiences. The rally around the band by the fanbase created an electric feel with familiar faces everywhere, even of those who are uninitiated to the music or skeptical of the group. The fans, these ‘Twiddlers’ (among the variety of names they have for each other – Frends, Twiddiots, Twiddlenauts, etc…) are what draws in attention to the band, as much as the band itself does. Like any mass following of a musician, the community that rallies around them is reflective of the music, and the base has the emotive welcoming personality found in Twiddle’s music. There is a syncopation between the music and the fans, something observed last year after attending four Twiddle shows over three months.
The “Blunderbuss” opener caught many off guard, as it was a debut fresh from the upcoming Plump Chapter 2, and a tight instrumental at that. The “Polluted Beauty” jam was driven by Gubb’s bass and Brooke’s drums, with an impressive funk jam that developed in “Wasabi Eruption” that was a highlight of the first set. Then “The Box” showed up and built off that energy; the build and electronic tone is the reason why “The Box” stands out as one of Twiddle’s strongest jam vehicles.
The all too familiar reggae sound of Twiddle was front and center in the set closing “Lost in the Cold.” It served as the perfect song for Matisyahu to join on with vocals, an unforced and natural fit, after having expressed admiration for the band. Following his contribution to “Lost in the Cold,” he took off his jacket and upon getting fans on the floor to put their hands up, he unexpectedly stage dove into the crowd. You don’t see this at jamband shows, or really any non-punk/metal show for that matter. It was a headscratcher as we headed into setbreak, but the energy from the set hardly dissipated.
A five song second set opened with “Grandpa Fox,” a little proggy no nonsense starter. And when there was a need for funk to keep it rolling, there was a driving funk, like in “Apples,” which featured a Michael Jackson medley and a severe dub jam as well. You gotta like this song. “Snycopated Healing” chilled things out with music to sway to, but “Frankenfoote” picked things up. Dempsey played the keys with his toes on this light, traditional Twiddle song, and one that is easily accessible to rookie fans. The encore began with a truly gracious Mihali giving thanks to the moms in attendance as well as the fans who sold out the Capitol Theatre only an hour before doors opened. With that, fans were treated to a bouncy “Zazu’s Flight” > “Hatti’s Jam” and “When it Rains, it Poors.”
Throughout this truly enjoyable show, the one aspect that I kept returning to was that despite the great deal of talent in the band, both individually and collectively, there are some spots where they play too few notes and could fill in some space, as brief but critical as those spaces may be. A lot of notes isn’t a bad thing.
This show at The Capitol Theatre was enough to wash away any bias and open eyes to see that Twiddle is a reset button on the jam scene, one in which they are strong advocates for the rising stars of the next wave of live bands. The history, the venue, and the centrality of location right off Interstates 95 and 87 led to their biggest NYC area venue show to date. The Beacon is the new goalpost in the continued domination of the band in Northeast markets.