Following a critical game five win by the Golden State Warriors, Southern California’s Delta Spirit channeled that confident and intense energy with their second consecutive performance at the Independent that included a handful of special guests in support of their latest album, Into the Wild.
For those who haven’t seen Delta Spirit, they were described as “one of the best bands of the century” by Ezra Furman, just one of the musicians who sat in on their set throughout the night. Known for their powerful live performances, they didn’t fall short of any expectations, commemorating their friends by interweaving solo performances and backing them up during covers of their favorite bands. Mixing styles of folk and indie rock, Delta Spirit elevate themselves to another level with their thundering and vociferous guitars, Matthew Vasquez’s throaty vocals and passionate personality, driving foot stopping rhythms and captivating hooks that turn the crowd into a chorus.
The stage was lined with arbitrary lights, illuminating musicians as they took to the spotlight. It was an unusual performance, more like a gathering of friends, or an elevated open mic, rather than a gig. On many tours, bands play the same set night after night in support of a new record, but Delta Spirit broke the mold by playing whatever the night called for and sharing the spotlight with other talented musicians, exposing them to the sold out crowd. Ezra Furman and the Harpoons were one of the openers, but Ezra was summoned to the stage a couple of times during Delta Spirit’s set. Sporting a tight mini dress with black tights and red lipstick, Ezra sang an acoustic version of his song “Day of the Dog,” and later joined the band for a raucous version of Violent Femmes “Add it Up.”
Other guests included Jessica Dobson, current guitarist for The Shins and lead singer of Deep Sea Driver. Dobson’s resume is impressive, including work with bands like Spoon, Beck, Yeah Yeah Yeah’s and Connor Oberst. She joined Delta Spirit on the stage for a version of their song, “Ransom Man” from 2010’s History From Below. Ivan and Alyosha, a rock band from Seattle, joined Delta Spirit for a version of Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” in which Vasquez and Tim Wilson traded verses. They also played an original tune, “It’s All Just Pretend” with multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich spontaneously taking the stage and adding percussion. New York instrumentalist and graphic designer, Sam Owens, joined in on what Vasquez proclaimed was his “favorite part of the night,” covering the song “Everybody Knows” by the Velvet Underground.
Despite the ongoing surprises, it was still Delta Spirit that invigorated the crowd the most. Their cover of Can’s “Little Star of Bethlehem” was ambitious and hypnotic, leaving the crowd spellbound. Their original tunes rallied the crowd. Vasquez’s solo acoustic version of “Time Bomb” from 2012’s self-titled album showed a gentle side to his somewhat gruff singing style as he admitted, “I don’t usually play these types of songs, but tonight is an exception.” The much anticipated song, “California,” was dedicated to the Golden State Warriors win, but their most momentous tunes of the night came from 2007’s break through album, Ode to Sunshine, as they played “People C’mon,” “Trashcan,” “Strange Vine” and an epic version of “People, Turn Around” for their final song of the night with all the musicians gracing the stage and bellowing the chorus.