Twiddle, MUN and Eggy, Toad’s Place, New Haven, CT- 3/7
“Hi-Def Shred, Face Melting, Barnyard Stomp,” is a common phrase used to describe the music of the band Twiddle. Yet, fans know that when this Vermont based quartet takes the stage—the likelihood that anything common will occur is just as slim as the chance of winning the PTBM lottery. Friday March 7 was no exception.
As I approached the legendary Toad’s Place, eager fans, ready for the show to begin, flooded the streets and surrounded me. Formed in Castleton, Vermont, Twiddle consists of guitarist and lead singer Mihali Savoulidis, keyboardist Ryan Dempsey, bassist Zdenek Gubb and drummer Brook Jordan. I walked in to the jam-packed venue just as the first opener took the stage.
Eggy, a four-piece high-energy rock band set the perfect foundation and expectations for the show—this was going to be a night of music fueled with experimentation and improvisation.
The Brooklyn based quartet, MUN followed and did not fail to continue this vibe. In fact, the band built upon this experimental energy and fused a dancey electronic sound to elements of the musical genres of jazz, rock and funk.
MUN was followed by a short intermission break.
Then finally around 11pm, the anticipation had ceased. Twiddle took the stage. Coming from Vermont, I’m certain of one thing—these guys recycle their soda cans. But a setlist? Never.
The band opened with “Syncopated Healing,” a more recent tune that saw its debut last summer, on their epic boat cruise show out of New York City. If elements of Phish were to fuse with the energy of Sublime, “Syncopated Healing” would be the musical byproduct. Its peaceful lyrics transpired a surge of blissful energy to the crowd. But at the same time, fans were cast with an uplifting party vibe. While Jordan carried out a thumping drumbeat, Dempsey and Savoulidis moved their way through a beautiful elevating chord progression.
Next, the band busted out the beloved “Apples,” and immediately a dance party was set in motion. This super funky tune featured an incredible amount of high-energy along with crazy vocals from Savoulidis. He moved back and forth from crazy, gibberish vocals fueled with sporadic energy to very melodic vocals satiated with a peaceful vibe. Within the “Apples” jam, the instrumental focus continually shifted and part of it featured a movement from a melodic guitar solo to a beautiful piano segment to an emphasis on the drums then over to a groovy funk sound with an emphasis on the bass.
“Subconscious Prelude,” Doinkinbonk,” and “Hattiben McRat,” followed before the fan favorite “Jamflowman” ended the first set, giving off a fast, upbeat and funky vibe that showcased the band’s greatest musical conquest—the fusion of funk and reggae.
Twiddle returned to the stage and opened the second set with “Hatti’s Jam,” a breathtaking intro propelled by its lyrical content and continually undulating vocals, as Savoulidis belted out lyrics of love, heartbreak and forthcoming hope. “Hatti’s Jam” was followed by a killer version of “Cabbage Face,” and then the quartet began to take the night to a different level, switched it up and brought in “Indigo Trigger,” “Beehop,” and Latin tang,” three songs that the band has beautifully worked into as part of the usual line up for this tour.
The show culminated with the crowd pleaser “The Box,” that featured a solo by each of the members and showcased the quartet’s advance musicality. It also displayed Savoulidis’ distinct voice and impressive vocal range yet again and featured an amazing display of built of tension and then the followed release of explosion from Savoulidis.
Twiddle proved with this show that they are a band quickly on the rise and their strong points are vast and can be found within their dynamics, funk and reggae, their soul element in the vocals and the technicality of their music. I left the show with a premonition I’m certain I shared with many other fans: the only constant that remains in the future of the ever-evolving magical music of Twiddle and their live performance is simply, the element of surprise.