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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