Spazmatics bringing rockin’ good time to Liberty Hill
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
Toes will begin to tap, shoulders will shake with the rhythm, and heads will bob in approval with familiar sounds, but listeners shouldn’t resist, it’s all part of the Spazmatics’ grip on an audience.
“Most bands you go to see a bunch of guys standing on stage playing songs, and that’s all good,” said Spazmatics guitarist Brian Young. “With the Spazmatics, we’re more like going to see a Broadway comedy show. We have costumes, we have choreography, we have skits, comedy and banter with the audience and within the band. And there’s lots of music, but it’s definitely a show.”
Maybe it will be a stirring rendition of Prince’s “Purple Rain”, a fun take on Thomas Dolby’s “She Blinded Me With Science” or even an all-out shredding of Billy Idol’s “Rebel Yell”, but something will grab hold of everyone listening. Perhaps it will be every song, as the audience spins in an inescapable vortex of nostalgia and entertaining stage presence. Either way, the Spazmatics know how to pull people in.
“The core of the music is definitely 80s rock and New Wave,” Young said. “We also throw in a few things from the 90s, a little bit of rap stuff here and there and then some 70s classic stuff.”
Fans will hear a bunch of favorites, but the set list can be as unpredictable as the humor on stage.
“All these things are songs we don’t do every night,” he said. “We have enough material to play about five or six sets of music, but we play three at a show. We have a core of what we call the A list songs we play every show, then we have a fluctuating set we mix in and out.”
The goal is simple for the Spazmatics – to entertain.
“We just have fun,” he said. “It’s all about entertaining. What I enjoy about this band is when I look out all I see is smiles for miles.”
There’s a lot of improvisation on stage to make the most of the band’s opportunity to connect with the audience.
“Our singer, Zeek, and our bass player, Joey, really interact with the crowd,” Young said. “They make fun of everyone and make fun of themselves, and people really get into the comedy in between the songs. You have to expect the unexpected, I don’t even know what’s going to happen next.
“The kind of band we are, we can get away with goofing off a little bit because people want to see that. A lot of times the funniest stuff is when we are holding on by the seat of our pants.”
The smooth transition from audience banter to well-rehearsed bits with the band is a hallmark of the group.
“At the same time, it’s a very tight show,” he said. “Our choreography is like the Rockettes as in being dialed in like a Broadway show. We want to make it perfect, but then in between the songs, talking to the audience and having fun, that’s when it can go just
The tunes the band plays are as diverse and surprising as the band’s stage presence, and they aren’t afraid to play anything and mix it all together.
“We’re one of the few bands you will see that will go from Wham to Metallica to Michael Jackson to Joan Jett all in a row,” Young said.
Which songs will get the audience up and on its feet on any given night is always a surprise for the band as well.
“They are all home runs on some nights and not on others,” he said. “Some of our staples are like ‘Take on Me’ by A-ha that we do a real fun version of, and sometimes we will break out ‘Rebel Yell’, ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ or ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and those get a big response.”
The all-ages fun planned for the Independence Day Spectacular is a not-so-subtle reminder to us all that our appreciation for the 80s is something that will never die as it makes its way through each new generation.
“It’s really weird because we play a lot of places with five, six, seven-year-old kids and I’ve seen a lot of them singing along word-for-word,” Young said. “I think their parents must be playing them these songs. I’ve wondered if we were ever going to see our audience get older, but it seems like there is still a new crop of fans every year. The 80s is going to survive.”