Many of the songs on Toad the Wet Sprocket's latest album, "Dulcinea," focus on the gap between expectation and reality. But when Toad played at the Triad Amphitheatre Friday night, there was no gap. The band's show lived up to every high expectation, providing a very entertaining evening for Utah fans.
The audience was ecstatic, the summer night gorgeous and singer Glen Phillips' strong voice was in fine form as Toad took the stage. After a couple of songs, however, the band had to stop so Phillips could remind the crowd that the fans in the front row had lungs, which were in danger of permanent damage from the motion of the enthusiastic audience. Phillips asked the crowd politely to "keep it up and down instead of forward." Luckily, it was a mellow crowd that was only too happy to comply, although Phillips had to provide gentle reminders a few more times during the show.Most of the material Toad performed was from the platinum album "Fear" and the new "Dulcinea." Some of the highlights included "Stupid," "Woodburning," the lighthearted "Nanci" and "Is It for Me." After "Something's Always Wrong," Phillips told the crowd the band had spent 16 hours the previous day shooting a video for that song, saying, "We decided to be honest about what a video is and did the video in the format of Home Shopping Club."
And then, of course, there were the Big Hits. "Hold Her Down" brought a flurry of fans running down from the grass to dance below the stage. "All I Want" (which Phillips introduced as "our funk epic") and "Fall Down," the band's latest single, both got a great response from the audience. During the encore the band played "Walk On the Ocean," a truly beautiful song no matter how many times you hear it. The band dedicated this one to the nostalgia of times when you could go see a concert without the fear of getting kicked in the head. Not that the fans were doing any serious moshing, although one or two crowd-surfers appeared; they seemed to be more into swaying gently or bouncing up and down.
Through the entire show, the good vibes wafting around were almost visible. Having the show at the Amphitheatre, where you can actually dance and breathe at the same time, was a big bonus. And Phillips' chat attacks between songs gave the impression that Toad cares about its fans. The performance was louder than words, however, and the band members showed they really cared by giving fans what they came for: a great show.
Wasted Tape, the opening band, managed to get a good response out of the audience. It combined good musicianship and melodic harmonies with a bit of an edge, very much like Toad but a little less mellow. This talented band did a remarkable job of warming up the crowd.