On the rise groove rock bands Spafford and Mungion brought their spring tour to New York City on Thursday, where they played at Brooklyn’s Music Hall of Williamsburg. They delivered an incredible show to a packed house of both devoted and brand new fans.
Mungion began their opening set to a near-empty room, but fast into their material they had the floor of the Music Hall crammed with listeners cheering at both their skill and their early on enthusiasm.
The music of Mungion is amazing in all that it incorporates on different musical levels. To start, you’d be hard pressed to find a band going today anywhere with more adventurous and exciting musical compositions. In a live setting, the band navigates wild and unpredictable pieces with uncanny ease, so that to hear them traverse their own material, which covers everything from raucous rock to jazzier psychedelia, is as thrilling as watching them wander off the page.
But they also do make sure to give themselves room to showcase their own individual improvisation. On a tune like “Nuthead,” doglegged twists and turns of composed sections each land on pockets of momentary groove, where each member can find something cool to add. Sometimes the guitarist was sailing on top with some breakneck playing, other times the drummer was throwing in very jazzy style to move the entire band down a very grooving avenue. This also invites all the members to have too much fun with each other, as was easy to tell. At one point halfway through their opening set, during a dirty but swift porno-style funk jam, the drummer had hopped off his kit to dance around with a tambourine, beaming with laughter at the energy shared with his own bandmates.
Towards the end of their set, the band busted into a more than respectable version of “Life During Wartime.” Starting out super tight and clean, their jamming on it found some cool, quiet ambient funk before charging hard for a very strong finish. To end, the band cruised through their own “One Night Stan,” a tune that whips along at sparking speed but does so with a bright, happy sounding melody and chords. The keyboard player capped Mungion’s set here with some especially nice soloing.
Spafford’s opener, “Slip and Squander,” is a great piece of music that aggregates a bit of everything they bring as a band. With some really nice vocals from keyboardist Andrew “Red” Johnson to start off, the song quickly took on some beautiful, delicate playing. But this morphed towards an immediate lofty peak with all four members pushing limits already. By the finish of this first tune, just ten minutes into their first set for the night, the crowd was unanimous in their elated cheers.
“All in,” coming next, continued the feel-good but soon drove things truly deep, for a big jam on song two. With some moments of interplay between guitarist Brian Moss and drummer Nick Tkachyk that weaved things in and out of some serious trance jamming. Eventually, the band reconvened on a fantastic, extended groove on a heavy blues finish out.
“Electric Taco Stand” dipped downward fast, taking on dark tones, complimented by some great slap bass from Jordan Fairless. “Feel Like a Stranger” delighted many for sure. Johnson’s lead vox here sounded particularly crisp, and the tune worked great in the context of all their other repertoire. It found some more drawn-out, psychedelic and spacey territory for each member to explore around in.
For “Ain’t That Wrong,” the band excitedly called up Todd Stoops to guest with them on keys. As the song charged on some strong playing from the band, it let Stoops play around with his zany, off the wall style of soloing on a screaming-pitched synth. Set two swung open with a big “In The Eyes of Thieves,” a prog-jazz rocker that the band pushed strongly in a couple different directions. Starting out easily enough, it came to a dancey, cosmic-sounding groove that saw some stellar soloing on both guitar and keys.
A highlight was next in their hot, techno-beat take on Tears For Fears’ “Mad World,” a cover choice which floored the whole of the Music Hall. Sung by Fairless, eventually by the end the crowd was jointing him and filling the room with their own chorusing of the lyrics.
“Galisteo” was a fun and thumping number, but it and then also afterwards “Leave The Light On,” both invited some more very pretty improvisation from all members, the latter finding a nice, almost-swing jam to coast down upon.
Spafford rounded off a terrific night with a solid couple of originals, first laying down version of “America,” and then finally “The Reprise,” which saw all four give a last strong push for the night.
Disco Rice > Nuthead, Causal Titus, Myrtle, Ferris Wheel’s Day Off, Chemical Plant, Life During Wartime, One Night Stan
Set I: Slip and Squander, All In ,Electro Taco Stand, Diana, Feel Like a Stranger, Ain’t That Wrong #
Set II: In The Eyes Of Thieves, Mad World *, Funkadelic > Galisteo Way, Beautiful Day > Leave The Light On
E: America, The Reprise