Words by: Dennis Cook
Stockholm Syndrome :: 02.15.08 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
How do you get your hands around this beast? Stockholm Syndrome is a rock chameleon, scaled and moist one moment and hairy, plush and wholly mammalian the next. Throughout this first stretch of their two-night run at The Independent there was something very alive about them, primal ooze percolating into bones and flesh, form and function carved from Creation's black soil and dark waters. Sure, this is a rock 'n' roll band but the way they do it burrows into deep expanses hiding behind the thin shell of daily existence.
Stockholm Syndrome :: 02.15 by Susan J. Weiand
The joy of this collaboration shone on their faces. As much as I admire and respect all the projects these cats are involved in, it's instantly apparent how much fun and real artistic pleasure they derive from playing together, and that feeling never subsided one iota until the final encore faded away. Singer-guitarist Jerry Joseph (The Jackmormons, The Denmark Veseys), bassist-singer Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), guitarist-singer Eric McFadden (EMT), drummer Wally Ingram (David Lindley) and keyboardist Danny Louis (Gov't Mule) are collectively one of the most talented, hot shit groups anyone has ever put together. May sound like hyperbole but hearing them jump off the precipice hand-in-hand right on the opener it was apparent we were dealing with genuine craftsmen with the ability to play whatever they want AND a sense of daring invulnerability and impetuousness that prompts them to take chances, hanging their asses in the breeze with wicked grins. No disrespect to Widespread, Gov't Mule, et al. but it only took a few numbers to get the sense that this may be the most engaged, fully switched-on setting these musicians work in.
Stockholm Syndrome hit with the belly punch of vintage punk played by guys with enormous technical skill and equal facility with blues-based rock, throbbing reggae, electric jazz and plain ol' pop music. Stockholm is their garage band, their once-in-awhile getaway that reminds them with chugging, beautifully rugged intensity of the reasons they picked up instruments in the first place. Jerry Joseph's eyes crackled with sparking purpose as he belted out lines like "If I could I'd burn the whole world down/ And raise it up again for you!" That flame was passed around as the explosive creativity of one member ignited something in the man next to him. Joseph and Louis, in particular, had a groovy love thing going on, where Joseph would plant himself an inch or two from the keyboards and just push Louis to dig into his trick bag. This game of musical chicken went on all over the stage. In Stockholm, these players reach for something beyond their norm, grasping at things just outside their comfort zone. The occasional stumble didn't halt or hinder the overall feeling of ever-present excitement. At the risk of overworking a symbol, it felt a bit like being engulfed by friendly blue flames, hot but healing, stealing the oxygen from our lungs with an ear-popping whoosh.
| Jerry Joseph :: 02.15 by Josh Miller|
They took us through dub clouds, Afrobeat tributaries (wonderfully reminiscent of The Talking Heads' Remain In Light), TV commercial jingles, un-pretty boogie and power chord hosannas. Individual contributions like solos were uniformly superb but it's the collective muscle they flex that sticks with you. I will say Danny Louis stands out here in a way he often doesn't in the Mule, showing himself a focused but no less bizarre child of Bernie Worrell with a greater affinity for piano stomp worthy of Les McCann. From minute to minute there was so much to choose from – the Asgardian heaviness of Ingram's drums; the Paco de Lucia meets Kirk Hammett dazzle of McFadden; Joseph's incisive guitar lines and fierce singing; the cataclysmic whomp of Dave Schools (the man plays bass like he's working the body of an elephant and you best watch out for the tusks); the inspired interplay of Louis' Hammond organ – that you were best to just lie back and let them take you, confident that both the journey and the destination would be worthwhile.
| Schools & McFadden :: 02.15 by Susan J. Weiand|
In the end, I walked away thinking that the reason they don't do this all the time is they might never return to their other bands. The definition of their name implies a sense of captive bedazzlement, where one defends their kidnappers and resists return to the life they knew before being swept up. And perhaps if they took a year off from their many other obligations and fully explored Stockholm Syndrome it might prove less thrilling, less their dream garage band and more like work. But, from the purely selfish perspective of a consumer of what their dishing out, well, I'd love to hear what an extended tour and a few more recording sessions might produce. Stockholm Syndrome is such a massive kick in the head, such a bolt to the soul that you can hardly blame a man for wanting more of it.
02.15.08 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
Empire One, Red Lightning > Tightrope > Red Lightning, Leaving Lopez, Purple Heart, Lick The Tears > Doors > LTT, Bouncing Very Well, Kind of Place, Shining Path, Conscious Contact
Encore: Tarantula Hawk
Continue reading for Kayceman's review of Saturday night...