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...
Words by: Kayceman | Images by: Susan J. Weiand
Stockholm Syndrome :: 02.16.08 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA
It's been four years since we got our first dose of Stockholm Syndrome. A lot has changed, and unfortunately, a lot has not. Here's what's different: Danny Louis has replaced German keyboardist Danny Dziuk; drummer Wally Ingram almost died and has since made a full recovery from Squamous Cell Cancer; and bassist Dave Schools has finally made good on his threats and moved to the Bay Area. In regards to what's the same, guitarist-vocalist Eric McFadden and singer-guitarist Jerry Joseph are still two of the most talented musicians on the planet with the least amount of recognition. But what's even more disturbing is that once again we are in an election year and the songs this band wrote four years ago are just as relevant today.
| Ingram, Schools, McFadden :: 02.15 :: San Francisco|
Just take a look at a few key lines from the band's 2004 debut, Holy Happy Hour:
"We tell the kids that it's good versus evil/ that country and God are more important than people/ We say it so much that it's almost believable." -"Tight"
"Hillbilly heroin, the Patriot Act, smothering the airwaves in vitriol/ Industrialization of the little brown babies, hope you got a bonus for the soul you sold/ We raise our hands with our American fork, our greedy little hands." -"American Fork"
Back on the preemptive; back on the offensive you're either with me or against me, better choose. -"Empire One"
"I don't think there's anything funny about another Jihad." -"The Shinning Path"
Beyond timely (but hopefully not timeless) lyrics, what has remained the same is that this band breathes fire. For a group that's played a mere handful of shows since 2004 - a pair of benefit gigs for Ingram in February 2007 and then two shows around Haynes' 2007 Christmas Jam - their ability to just lock-in and play is remarkable. By the time Saturday night rolled around the engine was greased, the tempos leveled and the improvisations packed with explosives.
| Wally Ingram :: 02.15.08|
Early in the show (they play a single long set), coming off a triumphant "Oil," the band brought it way down with two ballads "Spy" and "White Dirt" back-to-back. While both are excellent songs, placing two introspective, slower numbers together on Saturday night was a bit questionable. However, the band did a beautiful job of segueing into the thick, Rasta groove of "Friendly Fire" before dropping the hammer for the remainder of the evening. Somewhere between "The Jacob Ladder," "Ray Of Heaven" and "Couldn't Get It Right" everything came together. When they stopped thinking about song structure and just played, inspiration filled not only the band but also the audience. Watching McFadden and Joseph square off with their guitars, allowing them to bleed together and wrap around each other in some sort of rock double-helix we were reminded of just how powerful this band can be. Losing themselves in song, egos disappeared as moments of brilliance became sustainable jams that fed off their own energy.
As noted, one key factor to the success of this band is the addition of Gov't Mule keyboardist Danny Louis. Original ivory man Danny Dziuk was a great player, but far too timid. Every member of Stockholm Syndrome is a potential band leader, each one a dominant force, and although we may not see it all that much in Mule, Louis is an Alpha Dog just like Jerry, Schools and McFadden. If you are gonna try to compete on keys with all these testosterone fueled guitars flying around, you better have big balls, and Louis' sack is ginormous. And he just so happens to be every bit as wild and weird as the rest of the band, the missing member of Stockholm Syndrome for sure.
Waiting for the encore it was clear that Stockholm had satisfied the masses. There were sweaty brows, drink-stained shirts and dilated eyes circling the floor. Patiently contemplating the individual band members, their histories and other projects, I couldn't seem to shake a certain thought: What makes one artist Bruce Springsteen and the other Jerry Joseph? They are coming from the same place, exposing their emotions and fears in an effort to show the true, crumbling America filled with broken souls and battered dreams. They are two of the greatest songwriters we have and two of the most potent performers ever. They both possess an innate ability to tap the greater consciousness of an entire country and also connect with every person in the crowd. Yet one is a superstar and the other scrapes by.
Kicking-off the encore with a big ole "Spoonful" tease we saw all the various aspects of this great band jump to life. Toying with the blues standard and working it over in a psychedelic fashion that would have pleased Cream, everyone on stage was beaming with smiles. Carrying this expansive energy into the Jerry Joseph staple "Light Is Like Water," the night finished with fast picking guitars and foot stomping patrons.
| Joseph & McFadden :: 02.15 :: San Francisco|
It's an interesting recipe that dictates an artist or a band's fate. Why is Jerry not revered like The Boss? How come McFadden isn't the biggest rock star on Earth? He's definitely got the skills - there's no question there, but he's also in possession of intangibles like attitude, swagger and looks (not to mention he's a Flamenco master). How did Wally Ingram land that upcoming tour (and the previous ones) with Sheryl Crow? How did Schools become a living legend in one scene but has yet to find his recognition in the larger picture? Why isn't Stockholm Syndrome playing stadiums, or at least 5,000 person theaters with a couple of radio hits? If this band had been shot out of a vacuum; if everyone wasn't already so sure they knew all about that guy Jerry Joseph and that dude Dave Schools; if there were no preconceived notions this band may have come out in 2004 to mass acclaim at SXSW, CMJ and eventually Bonnaroo and all the other huge festivals. Or maybe they wouldn't have, who's to say. One thing we do know is that for those who already love what each player does separately, when these five musicians come together as Stockholm Syndrome there is nothing else like it.
Check out JamBase's exclusive travelogue as Kayceman heads to Europe with Stockholm Syndrome here...
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