92.9’s Earthfest was a packed, but well-oiled operation, with all, from young teens to young parents, joining in the buzz. The Spin Doctors, to me, were the standout name on the bill. The band was cultivated in the same early-90’s jam scene that Phish and Blues Traveler came from, and in their heyday, were known as one of the best touring live acts. Their success with “Two Princes” and “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” were an enormous blessing, and in many respects, a tremendous curse. While the tunes put them in the national limelight, moving forward, the band could not shake the persona it gave them and their other (rather excellent) material went widely unnoticed.
Enough band history, their set on Saturday did a lot to prove that the Spin Doctors’ vessel is still afloat. They played many of the classics, including personal favorites like, “What Time Is It?” and “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues.” Considering the environment, they showed a bit of boldness in pulling out some deep cuts, some beefy and very tight solos, and a few newer tracks. Their new material wasn’t bad either. Certainly nothing that’s likely to make the homepage of Pitchfork, but material that builds off the groove of their classic sound and even tackles some more adult themes, like what lead man Chris Barron would describe as, “the better parts of getting divorced.” Barron retains a giant personality on stage, doing David Lee Roth kicks, microphone twirls, and flexing his vocal chords.
Barron’s energy is reflected by the other band members, most notably bassist Mark White, whose slap-style playing provided less low-end and more lead instrument. Lead guitarist Eric Schenkman’s spider-fingered solos were no slouch either, adding bluesy riffs to otherwise pop-based structures. The band knew how to work it. A good percentage of the fans who showed up go exactly what they wanted with the band’s most notable singles, but even the biggest squares seemed pleased by the set as a whole. The band, as always, were enjoying themselves just as much.
Photo Credit: Chris Coe