Stockholm Syndrome | 09.06 | S.F.

Words by: Justin Gillett | Images by: Susan J. Weiand

Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.06.09 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA

Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.06 :: San Francisco
It's interesting to see a band that rarely tours actually play live. Going into the show, concertgoers don't know if what they are about to see will be a sloppy display due to infrequent interaction or a finely tuned act that simply lacks the ability to dedicate itself to the road due to band members' conflicting schedules. In the case of Stockholm Syndrome, it's undoubtedly the later.

Using the term super group to define the band almost seems cliché, but for lack of a better word that's what the band is – a super group. What originally started as a collaboration between guitarist/vocalist Jerry Joseph (Jackmormons) and bassist Dave Schools (Widespread Panic), turned into a serious musical endeavor a few years back with the additions of lead guitar shredder Eric McFadden(EMT), drum wiz Wally Ingram and versatile keyboardist Danny Louis (Gov't Mule). Even though the group rarely tours, a testament to how busy all the members' respective main musical endeavors are, when Stockholm Syndrome does announce an off-hand set of dates, the shows are worth attending, if for nothing more than witnessing five musicians at the top of their game perform together. The musical backgrounds and styles of the five artists are quite different, although when playing together the collaborative rock monster that is created is truly remarkable, especially considering the band typically performs less than 10 dates a year. Stockholm Syndrome's show at The Independent in San Francisco on Sunday night found the band in great form, performing as if the group lived on the road – which, in one way or another, they kinda do.

Dave Schools - Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.06
Opening up the show was local San Francisco blues inspired rock outfit The Stone Foxes. With two guitarists, a bass player and a drummer - all sharing vocal duties - the band displayed an impressive command of the stage. Oftentimes sounding like a classic rock throwback act, the quartet's sound was consistently driven forward with the solid, occasionally spastic drumming of Shannon Koehler and the steady, rarely faltering bass lines of Avi Vinocur. Even though all the musicians often sang together, they did not seem to be achieving any sort of refined harmonies. Instead, their vocals acted as contrasts to one another, which added to the group's unique sound.

As Stockholm Syndrome arrived onstage and greeted the slightly older crowd, the band tuned up and launched into a massive set that would persist for the better part of two hours. Schools, playing without his stalwart Modulus Quantum six-string, opting to play a Modulus Funk Unlimited four-string instead, imminently lit up a smoke, one of the countless number he sparked during the show, and looked eager to kick off the evening's musical ventures. While Stockholm songs are a vast departure from the Panic songs that Schools normally plays, his dominating bass lines are still extremely similar in nature. He's proven himself a bass player that can perform in several musical contexts, yet still hold onto a characteristic semblance that makes all of his playing unique and unmistakable.

Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.06 :: San Francisco
As the band got warmed up with its first few songs, attention shifted to Ingram's diverse drumming. Attaching hand drums to his drum kit, Ingram occasionally tapped into a sound that deviated from the typically rock driven sound of the band. Apart from Ingram's remarkable drumming, the songs proved that Stockholm really is the love child of Joseph and Schools. The other three musicians onstage played with as much dedication as Joseph and Schools did but occasionally it felt like they may not have invested as much heart into the songs as the noted guitarist and bass player have. The songs seemed to have been crafted by Joseph as singer-songwriter tunes, then as all the musicians in the band sear their brand onto the songs they morph into something completely different. But, the core of the songs is clearly Joseph's lyrics, which prove above all else he is a talented storyteller.

At points during the show the two guitarists would harmonize their instruments during solos, which created an amazing sound that worked surprisingly well considering Joseph's and McFadden's vastly different approaches. Typically, when the band's songs called for some sort of solo, McFadden would be the player to step up and deliver. His skill on the guitar was so impressive that it's astonishing he doesn't command more respect amongst serious six-string followers. His style is extremely flashy but McFadden displayed such dexterity while playing that his fellow musicians seemed to be in awe of him. His showboat style is no doubt bolstered because he looks like a bad ass when he plays, too. Sporting a sneer, thin dreadlocks and tattoo-covered forearms, McFadden just looks like a dude who plays a guitar really well.

Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.06 :: San Francisco
While many of the songs seemed to lack any sort of coherent "hook," the extended jamming and improvisation more than made up for any sort of apparent lack of mainstream listening appeal. The band brought out several tunes that will appear on their forthcoming new album, which the band claims will drop soon. On some of these fresh songs, Joseph's voice was extremely pronounced - a welcome change to some of the band's songs that lacked a characteristic inflection. The song selection as the band neared the end of its set seemed to really capitalize off the musical diversity that Louis displayed behind his keyboards. Ranging from reggae to Texas rock, Louis' knack for cross-genre competence really proved that he's one of the more talented and severely underrated keyboardists on the circuit today.

After the unrelenting set concluded, the band bowed off the stage visibly stricken from the massive amount of musical movement all had taken part in. After the crowd cheered for a bit, they returned to the stage and launched into an extremely heavy two-song encore so intense that Ingram broke his snare.

Continue reading for Dave Vann's pics from the previous night of Stockholm Syndrome in San Francisco...

Images by: Dave Vann

Stockholm Syndrome :: 09.05.09 :: The Independent :: San Francisco, CA

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