By Jocelyn Dietrich
‘Spirits’ were high as the sold-out venue gradually filled to capacity before the show even began. Pittsburgh had been buzzing about this particular night bringing Spafford and Mike Dillon to the area for many moons prior. Everyone came out of the woodwork to see what the hype was all about. The low carpeted (yes, you read that right) ceilings and dim lighting made it difficult to recognize each other, but we all new someone. We were greeted with hugs, smiles, and pre-show dancing jitters. The big ole disco ball in the middle of the dance floor decorated the tiny corner stage and set the mood for the party we were about to have.
By 9:00 we were all anxious and ready to go, but Spafford was nowhere to be found. Maybe they’re still not recognizing daylight savings time since they’re out of Arizona. Maybe they were still collecting themselves from the epic two-night run at the Fillmore in Detroit with Umphrey’s McGee. Or maybe they had just found the Magic School Bus behind the venue (more on that later.) Whatever the answer, minutes were passing like hours because we were all up and at ‘em, eager to groove under the disco ball. Only 20 minutes passed and the boys were right into it. Opening with Memphis in the Meantime, originally done by John Hiatt, there was no warm up. Jamming straight from the opener to All my Friends, Bee Jam, to Tod’s Tots then a fan favorite, and Facebook messaged request, Leave the Light On. Self-proclaimed “electro funk therapy” Spafford was exactly that. After coming off of a three-night run of the Disco Biscuits in Philadelphia (don’t knock it ‘til you try it), electro funk therapy was just what I needed.
We caught up with Jordan after the show at the fire outside by the Magic School Bus. (Spirit literally has a heated, juke-box bumpin’ school bus outfitted with Christmas lights and ash-trays.) I casually opened with a big Pittsburgh thank you, because this city, like many others, had been waiting for them to stop here for quite some time now. We discussed the making of Spafford – friends, roommates, building the band – and exchanged some small talk about Pittsburgh and the music scene before the sound of xylophones, Louisiana drum beats, and freestyles about wine coolers lured us back to the intimate little stage with BIG sound – Mike Dillon Band. Percussion master and hilarious poet, Mike Dillon was quite the spectacle, as to be expected. Cremate Me was the song of the night, as the words resonated with quite a few of us for days to come. “This one’s gonna marry me/this ones gonna bury me/this one’s gonna cremate me.” Quite the love song. Mike and the band take you on a roller-coaster ride of groovy, soulful melodies, dropping at lightning speed into rapid fire, strobe light madness, and back again.
We ended the night head banging and salsa dancing in the booth with a bottle of champagne, unsure of what exactly had just happened. Pittsburgh was lucky and grateful to have this night.