Spose – The Cabooze – Augus 1st, 2019

Expectations are a funny thing. There’s a few Spose live tracks and videos out there that highlight just how hard it is to take a great studio performance and translate that to a great stage performance. I had my expectations set that this was going to be a mediocre night with music I enjoy filled with enough flaws to make it an average evening. If I had my heart set on seeing a sub-par performance on a Thursday night because I had nothing better to do, I would have left thoroughly disappointed because I got twice the show I paid for. Fire, lit, killed it, wicked and awesome are all adjectives that could be combined in some sort of verbose prose to describe this show. I’ll attempt to avoid that below, but no guarantees.

The night started off pretty slow at around 7:30 with C.R. Mashii and Matt Fischer taking the stage together in front of maybe 150 people. C.R. started things off and had Matt supporting as backup. C.R. performed 4 or 5 of his songs and they switched off where Matt lead with his own tracks and C.R. offered backing vocals. Both artists are local acts from Minneapolis who deserve your attention as an opening act. They will come into their own at some point and add quality and depth into the Minneapolis music scene.

The next artist to take the stage isn’t listed on the bill anywhere, but if anyone knows who the kid in dreads was, comment below. I really wish I’d have caught his name, because this artist took the stage with confidence and owned the growing crowd. His style was somehwere in between street rapper and heavy metal artist. This guy knows how to perform and commands attention. You can bet that I’m going to find out who he is so I can learn more about him and catch another show. Pretty sure that even though I don’t know who he is today, I’m going to write a feature review on him in the future.

It was at this time that I realized how much faster rap/hip-hop artists break down and set up for the next act than rock shows. There was less than 10 minutes of downtime between acts. Pretty impressive. Bensbeendead took the stage next as a solo act. I’m going to have to stop underestimating artists, Ben proved this to me right away. I had heard him on a couple of Spose tracks, but wasn’t fully aware of his solo abilities until he started with his first song. Just one guy, a track machine and a laptop – that’s all that was on the stage. How much could I really expect? Way more than I actually did, aparently. Ben’s smooth even tone had the crowd of about 250-300 swaying and singing along. You could immediately tell that his songs were linked to something deep within him and found that common thread among most if not all participants in the audience. Ben had his sister come up and join him for a couple of songs and if Ben wasn’t enough, the pair of them was a knockout. Ben finished up his set with a couple more solo songs and roars of approval from the crowd. Ben is going to be a guy to watch for sure.

Spose sets himself up as a loser-type, lower to middle class kid growing up in Maine who isn’t taken very seriously in the music industry. Many of his songs play himself up as either bigger than life, but woven in between is the reality that he’s a lot more humble than he puts himself out there to be. I’ll have to admit, I’m not the #1 rap fan in all of Minnesota, heck, I’m not even the #1 rap fan in my house. Spose has got something that immediately grabbed my attention when I was searching YouTube for “speed rappers” around 2014 and I’ve been a fan ever since. Unlike a lot of raps that I’ve heard which basically amount to “if it rhymes, throw it in the flow”, Spose’s lyrics are consistent, intelligent, witty and well thought out. Each song tells a full story without fluff just for the sake of making a verse rhyme. He also has a gift of transitioning tempo from slow to fast, fast to slow, fast to fast to faster and just about everything in between. The guy is much more of a creative might than he’s probably ever been given credit for.

Spose took the stage with “Knocking on Wood”, one of my all time favorite pick me up songs which summed up is basically saying “You’ve got a lot to appreciate about life, do that instead of dwelling on the suck”. If you’ve heard of Spose and aren’t a dedicated fan, you’ve likely heard the more popular songs like “I’m Awesome”, “Good Luck with Your Life”, “Nobody” and “Gee Wilikers”. Spose knew these were the ones he had to nail these and did so in a way that made me feel like I was the only person in the venue and I paid $20,000 for my ticket. There were roughly 500 people at The Cabooze at this point and I’m resonably sure they all felt the same way. There was lots of crowd participation from mics hovering above the crowd for a sing along, high fives everywhere, guitar playing in the photo pit and the acknowledgement of the rare mosh pit at a Spose performance. This being the last stop on a 22 city tour before they head back to Portland Maine on August 8th to finish up with an east coast sprint, I think the band was charged up to deliver one hell of a show. Pretty sure they delivered exactly what they thought they would to celebrate the end of a long road behind them. If you’ve never heard of Spose, and for some reason that is completely beyond me, you probably never have, do yourself a favor and check out a couple of videos. I’m pretty sure after you do, one (or both) of two things will happen: 1) You’ll immediately feel better by having listened to a song that probably isn’t centered around a negative message and 2) you’ll find yourself gladly handing over the dollars for a ticket the next time Spose is in town. I’m already a fan, and I plan on doing both of those myself.

Review and photos by Paul Allen