If this article could have a subtitle it would have to be, as my good friend (and photographer extraordinaire) Robbie Green suggested, “I Went To A Spill Canvas Show And All I Got Was A Hurt Back.” You see, I’m an old man of the ripe old age of 32, and I have back problems because of course I do. Literally as I was about to walk out the door and jump in the car with Robbie to head to the show I threw my back out cleaning up a mess in my 3yo’s room. I thought, “You’ve got to be kidding me. This is the last thing I need right now.” It wasn’t the worst it’s ever been, but it wasn’t a walk in the park either. But being the ever-stubborn “tough guy” I am, I downed some ibuprofen and went anyway. I wasn’t gonna miss this band I’ve been a fan of for some 12 years or so.
So this tour is called “The RequesTour” because the set-list was voted on by fans. There are few, if any, other bands that would give back to their fans that way, by letting them actually choose the songs they want to hear. It speaks volumes to the band’s credit that they would give over that responsibility. I mean, there’s a lot that goes into creating the flow of a show and, as a fan, we don’t necessarily know what’s best but, god help us, we still yell out song titles we want to hear anyway. This was kind of a brilliant way to nip that s**t in the bud.
The show was at the Exit/In, and the opening band was local boys Sound & Shape. I’m ashamed to admit that I hadn’t heard of these guys before now but they were absolutely fantastic and you should definitely check them out.
The Spill Canvas took the stage to “Return of the Mack“, by Mark Morrison, and my actual note for this was “The band came on stage to ‘Return of the Mack.’ F**king Amazing.” Because it was.
Before opening the show with “Reckless Abandonment”, front man and Spill Canvas founder, Nick Thomas asked the audience if anyone had some gum. He said he’d follow up after the song and expected someone to deliver. The band kicked into the song and the immeasurable amount of energy they produced completely set the pace for the entire rest of the show. The exploded and rode the momentum. Nick made good on his promise and followed up with audience about that gum. He was quickly berated with what had to be at least two dozen sticks of gum, and he loved it.
Even after more than a decade of playing shows, the band still clearly enjoys being on stage and you can see in their faces that they’re legitimately having fun. They’re not just phoning it in, they give 1000% of themselves and they love every second of it. It’s not just a “performance” for them.
Their authenticity is proven in how passionate the fans are. During “Polygraph, Right Now”, The band stopped for a few beats so the crowd could sing along A cappella and they probably could’ve just kept right on. You could literally hear the conviction in the choir of voices as they sang, “Fate is an elegant, cold-hearted whore. She loves salting my wounds, yes, she enjoys nothing more.” It was… kind of beautiful, actually.
There’s a lot to be said for the band’s conviction too though. Nick sings with such emotional depth. You can tell that the feelings that birthed these song lyrics are ones he must relive every time he sings them again.
The band powered through a handful of songs, including gems like “Appreciation and The Bomb”, “Lust A Prima Vista”, and “The Truth.” Right before going into “This Is For Keeps”, Nick joked about how he wrote the song about a vampire boy falling in love with a human girl LONG before Twilight was even a book series. He summarizes by saying, “F**k Twilight.” To which the crowd jubilantly agrees, myself included. Cause, you know, f**k Twilight.
After “This Is For Keeps”, the band brought up a girl from the crowd who was chosen at random, to come on stage and get a picture with the band. How many bands care about their fans enough to stop a show so they can take a picture with one?
I also have to mention a really sincere moment that happen when Nick was on stage alone. Right before playing “Lullaby”, Nick dedicated it to his wife, and made a profoundly romantic point that all the love songs he had written hadn’t really been about anyone specific, but now they’re all about her. This got the crowd in our collective feels. Being on the receiving end of a song, and experiencing it through our own personal filter, we often fail to understand the place the writer was in when they wrote it and what it really means. This was a one of those rare moments when the curtain drops, if only briefly, and you get to see the real heart of a song and it’s writer.
Overall, the show was an absolute blast. A set of complete feel-good songs; Ones you just can’t help but nod your head, tap your foot, sway back & forth, and sing along too. Even with the discomfort of back pain I still had so much fun and even forgot about the pain for a little while.
The RequesTour rolls through St. Louis tonight (10/4) and there’s still several other dates left for you to catch if they’re coming through your area. I highly recommend that you make plans to get out to one of these shows and see The Spill Canvas live, or keep an eye out for when they make it back around your way.
(All photos by Robbie Green)