May 10, 2013
Sometimes you have to go to grungy clubs to review rock bands. Fortunately, on this particular night, Delta Spirit was playing a private industry event at the Playboy Mansion. Sponsored by Jack Daniels, the event coincided with a fundraiser for Operation Gratitude, which provides care packages to U.S. service members. How could I turn down the opportunity to see a great show with even more entertaining surroundings?
In case you didn't know, one doesn't just pull up to the Playboy Mansion. After going through tighter security than TSA, you are shuttled into the world of bunnies. Four beautiful Playmates (Hiromi Oshima, Pamela Horton, Raquel Pomplun, and Nikki Leigh) were available for a photo opportunity as you walked in, making it a unique souvenir and my best Instagram photo ever. While it was enticing to walk around the grounds and fraternize, my main objective was to see Delta Spirit.
Delta Spirit have come a long way since I saw them at their residency at the Detroit Bar back in January of 2007. They have been on the road supporting their third self-titled album and were just in Napa for the Bottle Rock Festival the day before. A handful of true fans managed to make it inside the Playboy Mansion, as a small gathering of folks were in front of the stage as the band tore into “Money Saves.”
I assumed that Delta Spirit might have dressed up for this special gig, but they were in their usual ragtag attire, ready to turn in blistering rock-fueled set. Jon Jameson's thumping bass lines provide the steam that powers their locomotive songs. Matt Vasquez has grown as a dynamic frontman, slashing at his Fender Jazzmaster while unfurling his aching vocals during “Idaho.”
Playing in a large tent in the backyard with multiple bars set up felt like watching someone tie the knot, which Vasquez acknowledged when he asked the crowd to clap along like it was a wedding during “Tear It Up.” I had flashbacks of those Detroit Bar days upon hearing “Strange Vine,” with its woozy piano lines and careening guitars by Will McLaren. Vasquez nicely dedicated “Parade” to the peacocks and other “animals” strutting their stuff on the property.
“Empty House” featured some phenomenal double percussion action from multi-instrumentalist Kelly Winrich and drummer Brandon Young. Vasquez was having fun throughout the set and proceeded to bust up laughing twice before finally kicking off “People Come On.” More nostalgia kicked in for a fiery double shot of “Children” and the anthemic “Trashcan.” A rousing rendition of “California” closed out their set as two bunnies hopped along in time beside me. They really need to hold more concerts at the Playboy Mansion.
Critical Bias: Who wouldn't pass up this opportunity?!
The Crowd: Lots of bunnies, rock stars, “celebrities,” old dudes with lots of money and Corey Feldman.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Do you think she likes me?!” was stated by one over eager attendee who fell for the charms of a Playboy Playmate.
Random Notebook Dump: Hugh Hefner's son Cooper is slated to take over the Playboy empire. He currently is a student at Chapman University in Orange. Give me a call Cooper if you are in the OC next time.
“Tear It Up”
“People Come On”