One of Santa Barbara’s most successful homegrown bands returned to touring, playing the first of two sold-out nights at the historic Lobero Theater on January 30th. Toad the Wet Sprocket's show was packed with family, friends, and local fans of the band resulting in a sea of shoutouts throughout the evening.
Toad began their career as a band while still in high school. By 1987 the young teens were a local staple on the live band circuit, playing adult establishments like the iconic 1980’s Santa Barbara dance club, Zelo, and Pat’s Grass Shack in Goleta. The original group featured singer-songwriter-guitarist Glen Phillips, guitarist-songwriter Todd Nichols, drummer Randy Guss, and bassist Dean Dinning. Guss left the band in 2017 and was replaced by drummer Josh Daubin. The group became nationally known in the early '90s with a melodic sound akin to REM during a time when hard rock grunge was dominating the music scene. They had great success on the radio with singles that included "Walk on the Ocean," "All I Want," "Something's Always Wrong," "Fall Down," and "Good Intentions." By the end of the decade the group broke up to pursue solo projects, but periodically got back together for various events and reunited as a full-time band again in 2010.
The evening began with a nostalgic set by the Woodburning Project, a local band from the same genre and time as Toad. The band's lead singer joked that their last gigs before the Lobero show were on July 4, 1995, six weeks before the release of Windows 95, making them "a band from the DOS era." But the band has found a renewal of interest, thanks to some old reels of tape that they found and restored, currently available on Bandcamp. The band has also added a cello player giving their sound a rich new jazz-like layer. The group had many fans in the audience cheering each song in their opening set.
After an extended break with music fans enjoying local wine and beer on the veranda, lead singer Glen Phillips welcomed the crowd back inside for the headline set by Toad. Phillips has had a successful solo career as a singer-songwriter and acoustic guitar player. His vocal abilities shined throughout the mostly nostalgic set, which was likely the soundtrack to many in the audience during their high school and college years. The group played songs from their entire catalog, from 1989's "One Little Girl" to tracks from their most recent album, 2013's "New Constellation.” The band played their biggest hits such as "All I Want," "Good Intentions," and the main set finale, "Fall Down." The encore featured a pair of hits “Something's Always Wrong" and "Walk on the Ocean.”
For fans of the band who missed the show will have another chance to see them live this summer when they tour with the Barenaked Ladies and the Gin Blossoms. The national tour will make several stops in southern California, including the Greek theater in Los Angeles on June 12 and the beautiful Vina Robles Amphitheater in Paso Robles on June 14. The band will also be playing the prestigious Beale Street music festival in Memphis in May. Oprah Magazine recently named the event as one of their favorite festivals.