Hot Time in Chicago with Delta Spirit
Why would I brave four hours of gridlock traffic into Chicago on a hot summer day? It would have to be a pretty special event to motivate such a trip, Delta Spirit at the Metro sparked this insanity. After being duly impressed by their intimate performances at Daytrotter's Barnstormer III in May, we took the trip into the Windy City to see them in an actual club setting where they were even more impressive. Delta Spirit hails from Long Beach, CA, playing an addictive concoction of soulful southern blues with indie rock sensibilities.
After dinner with friends, we arrived at the Metro shortly before 10:00 pm, missing the opening band The Romany Rye featuring former members of Christopher Denny’s band. This was a bit disappointing, since I heard they played a really good solid set with selections from their debut cd “Highway 1, Looking Back Carefully.”
On the way to the merch table with friends, we ran into Matt Vasquez of Delta Spirit being carded by security on his way in. Recognition from Barnstormer brought hugs all around that seemed like a reunion of long-lost friends. With a big smile, he told us how the tour was going. “The crowds have been great; we’re having the time of our lives,” he said. “Just the long 7-8 hour drives between gigs and 6 am wake up calls, I’m going on two hours of sleep a night, but it’s great”. You have to admire his determination and passion for the music. He was genuinely excited to play that night and looking forward to a day off after virtually three weeks of nonstop performances every night.
We caught a little of Ezra Furman and the Harpoons that followed. They thanked the crowd for coming out to support all three bands, going on to say, “we don’t sell our souls, we just bare ‘em on stage”, and bare them they did.
When Delta Spirit took the stage to a nearly sold out venue, you could feel the excitement in the air. Many people we spoke to had also seen them and commented on how great their live shows are. Opening with a single verse of “People Turn Around”, they launched into “Bushwick Blues” from their new release “History From Below”. The crowd responded immediately, setting the stage for a rockin’ night of great music and sweet ballads. The band continued on with a tribute to Howard Zinn with the song “ 911”, then on to “Golden State” and “White Table”. Interspersed with the new music was mix of crowd favorites from their Ode to Sunshine release including “Streetwalker” and “People Come On.” Toward the end they brought the tempo down a bit, playing the haunting ballad “Ransom Man” and the heartbreakingly beautiful song “Vivian”.
With the entire crowd singing along to Pink Floyd’s “Wish You Were Here,” they launched into the crowd favorite,” Trashcan”. From my vantage point in the balcony, everyone was dancing, including me.
Thanking the crowd, they invited the crowd to celebrate a hot night in Chicago with an encore that sent everyone into party mode with a blistering version of the classic "John Henry." They drew the audience in by pointing people out, challenging them to have a good time, and flirting with girls in the front row. With an extended version of "Gimme Some Motivation," the first song Delta Spirit ever wrote, they brought down the house by closing with Otis Day’s "Shout." For many, the party went on into the wee hours of the morning; it was definitely a hot night in the Windy City!
Delta Spirit Encore