Last summer Delta Spirit opened for My Morning Jacket at the Pageant giving them entry to a whole new group of fans. As their third self-titled album hit the street within the last week, the 25-35 year old St. Louis fan base knew what was up and came out to support the band on this headlining date. Evidenced by the audience crowding on to the floor as the band was about to take the stage, leaving the middle and rear sections of the venue sparser. The smokers, lounging outside on the patio furniture, crowded around side doors to the patio just off the floor to get a good view and enjoy the evening.
As the San Diego-based group began their set around 9:20 p.m., they started with "Empty House," the lead track of their new album. Fresh off their trip to Austin for SXSW and playing only their second show of the tour, the band was bathed in incandescent light from their brand new light rig. The display contains four large black triangles in the form of a larger overall triangle with large round lights mounted down each leg of the triangles. The band's back lit setup gave warmth to the stage and stood in stark contrast to venue's own house set up of LED lights.
Early in the set Vasquez, appreciative of the crowd's early energy, said, "It's great to be back in St. Louis." He continued by pointing out a 6 or 7-year-old girl in attendance calling her the "cutest girl in the audience -- she is so cute. Every song is for you tonight." The girl, sitting on the shoulders of her dad near the sound board, beamed as she clapped along to the songs.
Vasquez's warm, singular-sounding voice meshes well with the music the band creates. Luckily, the electric piano of Kelly Winrich was high in the mix to counter the guitar tones of Vasquez and William McLaren. Drummer Brandon Young plays with a wild, loose abandon of a lead instrument that only works as Jon Jameson's bass holds things together.
Near the end of the set the band drew heavily from their 2008 debut album, "Ode to Sunshine" and their 2010 sophomore release, "History from Below," obviously more familiar to the audience. The beautiful slow waltz of "House Built for Two" had the crowd swaying back and forth, but then just as quickly the upbeat drums of the intro and the reverb laden guitars of "People C'mon" brought the energy level back up.
Ending the set with the strumming sounds of "Children" and "Golden State," the band exited the stage to the outside patio where plenty of fans were watching the show in the cool night air. After the obligatory clapping for more, the band made its way back for a two song encore. The second session began slowly with the slow, plodding "Devil Knows You're Dead" to build back to the eventual crescendo. Ending the set with an even more spirited version of "Trashcan" than the original, the band came prepared with a real metal lid for the true effect.
San Francisco based quintet Waters opened the evening with a 45-minute set of their original material to support their first album "Out in the Light" on City Slang Records. Lead singer and songwriter Van Pierszalowski, formerly of the defunct Port O'Brien, continues his nautical theme with his new band with more raw energy. Wearing a striped t-shirt, his long blonde skater hair covering his eyes, Pierszalowski gyrated and shook on stage while his band carried on somewhat stoically behind him. Tousling his hair and generally freaking out as he played guitar, he lead the group through a mixture of '90s indie rock and Surf/Folk. In my head I kept hearing a more energetic Dawes. With a little work, Pierszalowski and his band could very well come up to the level of other similar artists.