Sparta-the Texan legends, not just the ancient Greek state...
You young'ins will find that as years start to coalesce into blocks of time in your life, certain blocks of time will be highlighted by great performances by equally great bands and performers.
Back in September of 2002 I was a singer in a local band and my lead guitarist and I were excited to see the newly-minted band Sparta less than a month after their first album, Wiretap Scars, was released (beating former At The Drive-In bandmates’, The Mars Volta, and their first release by nearly a year). That particular show was an opening slot for a then increasingly popular Jimmy Eat World after their third, sorta self-titled album dropped the Summer before and shot up the US charts like a SpaceX rocket. All these memories and more came flooding back when I saw Sparta would be playing in Seattle while I was visiting, and to make it even better they’d be playing at the(in)famous Crocodile. After I had downed a few Ranier tallboys (or were they Olympias?), the serviceable opening band (local Seattle quintet Chrome Lakes) took the stage and pleasantly warmed up the crowd of around a hundred or so until it was the headliners’ turn.
Jim, Matt, Gabriel and new drummer Cully Symington played a nearly perfect set of old favorites (While Oceana Sleeps/Mye/Glasshouse Tarot) and songs for their upcoming record (Cat Scream/Graveyard Luck/Fight With Love) with a masterfully-curated punctuation of loud and soft that would make any mixtape maker shake their head at it’s seemingly effortless execution.Bright spots included Jim talking candidly about touring, writing and recording new songs, waxing nostalgic about playing in Seattle many years prior and adorably realizing mid-lyric that he’d started off “Collapse” with the second verse instead of the first.
It was another night to remember by a talented group of musicians that, despite moving into their fourth decade of their lives, continue to make accessible and gut-wrenching songs that can still knock you on your ass- and sometimes knocking you down are their equally aging fans in what may be their last chance to be in a pit without hating themselves for the next three days.
Pass the Ibuprofen.