In my attempt to court a friend to accompany me to a Delta Spirit concert, I found myself at a loss to simply and cleanly describe their musical genre. It was not because of the complexity of their music or rare instrumentation, because neither would apply in this situation; but rather because there is a delightful simplicity that I could not categorize. I felt unsatisfied with describing them as plain “rock”, and shallow applying the “indie rock” label (irony intended) that I found on their Wikipedia page, because of its tendency to siphon the intricacies of any band with a guitar, bass and drum set. When I consulted other sources, I continuously ran into “alt country”, a genre with which I was unfamiliar with, and I found myself inexplicably offended by. Fortunately, the voice of Matt Vasquez, lead singer of Delta Spirit, is incredibly enticing, and I was able to find a companion for my Thursday night venture to the El Rey Theatre.
Following a subtly enjoyable and funky set by Deep Sea Diver, Delta Spirit took the stage. Unable to squash my itch to label delta spirit, I decided that I would come up with a definitive answer after the show. Beginning with their explosive new single “From Now On”, off of their new album Into the Wide, I was distracted from any extraneous anxiety surrounding genres. I was immediately transported back to the euphoria I experienced during my junior year of high school when I had just begun tiptoeing past the tiny sample of alternative rock that KROQ offered. I immediately felt paralyzed by a rejuvenating serenity, a mix of feelings that physically cannot occur simultaneously but persisted within me regardless, ignoring any possible biological restraints.
As the set went on, it was clear that I was not alone with my sentiments. I was surrounded by worry-free head nods and content grins. Content, not in the sense of the lowest rung of the happiness hierarchy, but rather, explicitly the definition supplied my Apple dictionary application, “a state of peaceful happiness.” Delta Spirit gracefully weaved between their most recent album and their older albums with grace and glowing fluidity. They had a firm control on the emotions of the crowd, riling everyone up with their hit “Trashcan” and slowing everyone down with “Yamaha.” When a quarrel between two concertgoers became somewhat violent and was on the verge of disrupting the vibrant tranquility of the standing room, lead singer Matt Vasquez verbally intervened, and restored the crowd to its original state.
As they played their final song, “White Table”, a thunder of affirming applause filled the room. Vasquez and the rest of his shaggy-headed band bowed their heads and walked off the stage. Not ready to accept the end, I began chanting “Strange Vine”, a song that, alone, got me through existential crises, AP physics, and many other life obstacles. To my chagrin, none of my counterparts seemed to share my personal nostalgia for the song, so I settled for a subdued “Encore” chant.
Regardless, within minutes Delta Spirit took the stage one more time. To what felt like the holy scrolls being delivered, Vasquez began “Strange Vine”: a perfect beginning to the end of this show. He brought up someone who he claimed to be his sister and soothed the crowd, or maybe just me, a song that had carried me through so much. He followed this with “Into the Wide” from his new album, and closed it with the introspective, call to action “People Turn Around.”
I raised my hands in fulfilled acceptance, deemed my initial genre debate ludicrous and walked out of the El Rey Theatre. Delta Spirit did not disappoint, and established the only label necessary: “Great Music.”