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Claps and chaos on Tuesday with Delta Spirit

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Well played, Sacramento.

Was it the great weather? Was it the fact that it was Tuesday? Was it just that Sac just doesn’t really know Delta Spirit (yet)? Was it that trainwreck of a botched tribute/preview combo that this reporter attempted to pen last week?

Whatever the factors, Ace of Spades was feeling pretty sparse in the early goings of Tuesday night’s Delta Spirit gig, even as opening act Waters was wrapping up their set. It had that vacuous "should have been at Harlow’s" venue feeling, like you were for some reason using a punch bowl to scramble two eggs.

Folks were out all about town basking in one of our first legit summer evenings, but it didn’t seem like anyone was paying mind to the frenzy of rock and roll that was about to fire up inside A.O.S., prompting fears that Delta Spirit would be playing to a "dead" room.

There’s a reason why lead singer Matt Vasquez, on "like our third time ever in Sacramento," was praising the crowd as "fucking awesome" by the end of a set that I would use the same two words to describe, but am not technically allowed to in this space. From the moment the band took the stage, nearly everyone funneled in from the bars, lounge, couches and tables to get down and dirty with this beautifully ferocious rock band.

What looked like a sideline crowd got on the gridiron and brought their A-game.

There were very few songs (possibly none) that Vasquez and Co. did not incite arms-up audience clap-alongs. It started early with the blitzing jam on the almost eerily romping "White Table." Maybe the clapping was meant to augment the intermittent wall of percussion created by the main drum kit and the additional center island of thump that gave many a song some extra umph.

The frequent clapping may sound cheesy, but it fits well with their affable and approachable stage persona. Delta Spirit throws the party that everyone’s invited to and welcome to stay at all night, as long as you bring a sixer of Miller Lite. No one is more important than another.

Or, to put it another way, "we are two Indians in the same canoe," as go the lyrics to the jumpy "Strange Vine," followed by a "dance tune" called "Tear it Up," from their recent self-titled album.

Vasquez was good enough to mention that the group had spent the afternoon at Capitol Bowl in West Sac before leading the crowd in the primal tribal war cry interludes of "Tellin’ the Mind," followed closely by the beautiful crescendo of the ballad "House Built for Two," which they have apparently not played in the last couple of years.

And was it just me, or did that groovy homemade triangular light structure remind anyone of something you’d build with these?

It’s hard to determine if Delta Spirit is an Americana band that likes to play very uptempo, or just a straight-ahead rock band that will occasionally like to slow things down. "Bushwick Blues" and "People C’mon" would tell one end of the story, "Children" might tell another. And then there’s the intensely beautiful "Devil Knows You’re Dead," which opened up the encore, and certainly sent Tyler Williams of locals the Great Northern Divers (and formerly Light Rail) home happy. I ran into him at the bar, he told me it was the one song he really wanted to hear.

Either way you choose to classify Delta Spirit, the last song of the evening "Trashcan" represents a little bit of everything that is great about rock and roll. Slamming a trashcan lid for percussion, throat-shredding and howling vocals, thundering piano, grooving guitars, and Vasquez climbing to the rafters atop the tallest amp on stage.

Front men don’t usually do stuff like that if they’re not feeling a crowd.

Well played indeed, Sacramento.

Delta Spirit’s Matt Vasquez

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