Toad the Wet Sprocket made a triumphant return to Milwaukee on Thursday night at Turner Hall Ballroom.
Led by Glen Phillips, Toad the Wet Sprocket has had a major resurgence this year thanks in great part to the Kickstarter campaign that raised money for their first album in 16 years, "New Constellation."
Toad the Wet Sprocket might have been wrapping up the New Constellation 2013Tour (only gigs in Madison and Minneapolis remain) but they didn’t show any signs of fatigue at a nearly full Turner Hall Ballroom.
Since the band was touring in support of the new album, they played about half of the record throughout the night, most notably opening the show with "The Moment" and later inspiring fans unfamiliar with the album to pick up a copy by playing the excellent title track.
Phillips didn’t hide his effort to push units by asking the crowd who had the new album and following the question up by asking out of those who responded, who would recommend the record to those who didn’t have it? The cheers both times indicated that a good percentage of the audience had already paid, but the peer pressure was enhanced by the quality of the new songs the band played.
It was clear that he was in a good mood, as Phillips shared an anecdote about how he was experiencing a day that restored his faith in humanity. The main source of his attitude was that a stranger found the wallet Phillips wife had lost the night before and returned it to her with everything still intact.
The other thing that made his day great was the food provided to the band by the venue, which he went into about before letting out a slight burp.
Even though this was the New Constellation 2013 Tour, Toad the Wet Sprocket showed a keen awareness that the fans really wanted to hear their catalogue of songs primarily from the 90s. Arguably, the two best known songs in Toad the Wet Sprocket’s collection would be "All I Want" and "Walk on the Ocean."
A pretty common trend is that a band might save big hits like these for the encore. However, it was a pleasant surprise to hear "All I Want" less than 10 songs into the concert. Of course, "Walk on the Ocean" was saved for the encore, but the band deserves kudos for not sitting on both of these chestnuts.
One of the things that was neat to see in the audience was the collection of cool parents who brought their young kids out to see the show. Toad the Wet Sprocket is about as inoffensive as it gets when it comes to rock music, so it would make sense that it is something these families could listen to at home or in the car.
Whatever the case, it was impressive to see how much these families got into the show. It was a pleasure to be able to enjoy a band that really didn’t seem like they had missed a beat despite the time off.
The opening act for the evening was the very enjoyable Peter Mulvey. For Mulvey, it was clearly a treat for him to be back home in Milwaukee after spending most of the year traveling all around the world.
He talked about the simple pleasure of being able to grab a burger at McBob’s before his gig. The stand-out track of his short set was "Kids in the Square," which he introduced by telling a story about the 2011 union protests in Madison and how inspired he was by the support the cause received from people around the world.