At the second night of Toad the Wet Sprocket's two-night residency at the Lobero Theatre in Santa Barbara, singer Glen Phillips told the audience, “This has been such a cool couple of nights,” joking that, “I think this is the largest guest list we've ever had.”
The guest list included several parents of the band members, who along with a full house of hometown friends and fans were watching the band celebrate 30-plus years of music.
The group revisited songs from their entire catalog, stretching from 1989's “One Little Girl” to tracks from their most recent studio album, 2013's “New Constellation.”
Along the way, they played fan favorites such as “All I Want,” “Good Intentions,” which Phillips dedicated to “anyone who has had a good time doing something that they deeply regret,” and the main set closer, “Fall Down.” The encore was the delightful one-two punch of “Something's Always Wrong” and “Walk on the Ocean.” But the soul of the show was “I Will Not Take These Things for Granted,” a fitting song for a humble band who can still sell out shows decades after their heyday.
Notable nods to other artists included a verse of Pink Floyd's “Breathe in the Air” at the end of “Don't Fade,” followed by an a cappella verse of “We Shall Be Known” by the lovely duo MaMuse.
As I was enjoying the show, it became clear to me what elevated Toad the Wet Sprocket above so many other bands of the era: the songs. They're not flashy, they're not technically complicated, and they aren't hidden behind a grungy sound. They are heartfelt, catchy, and speak to universal truths and experiences.
The evening started with a wonderful set by the Woodburning Project, a local band with a similar vibe to Toad the Wet Sprocket, with the added touch of an electric cello in the mix. The band said that their last gigs before the Lobero shows were on July 4, 1995, six weeks before the release of Windows 95, making them “a band from the DOS era.” But they have new life, thanks to some old reels of tape that they found and restored, currently available on Bandcamp.
As the show was wrapping up, Phillips said, “It's such a pleasure to be back in town. It's been too long.” But like seeing a good friend after a long break, it was easy for all of us to pick things right up where they left off.
Setlist for Night 2
All I Want
Fly From Heaven
One Little Girl
I Will Not Take These Things for Granted
We Shall Be Known (MaMuse song)
Come Back Down
Something's Always Wrong
Walk on the Ocean
— Jeff Moehlis is a Noozhawk contributing writer and a professor of mechanical engineering at UC Santa Barbara. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his website, music-illuminati.com. The opinions expressed are his own.