Spin Doctors with special guest John Popper (of Blues Traveler)
61 Wythe Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11249
Doors: 6:00 PM
Show: 8:00 PM
In accordance with the New York City “Key to NYC” vaccination mandate, Brooklyn Bowl has updated its COVID-19 Policy, effective immediately:
All guests must present a matching photo ID along with proof of vaccination in the form of:
NYC COVID Safe App
CDC Vaccination Card (or photo)
Official immunization record from outside the U.S
Acceptable vaccines include:
Johnson & Johnson
Vaccines authorized by the WHO (if vaccinated outside of the U.S.)
Any guests, including ticket holders, unable to provide adequate proof of vaccination will not be granted entry into the venue.
Guests under 12 are required to wear masks except while eating or drinking.
All guests are strongly encouraged to wear masks.
All Brooklyn Bowl staff are fully vaccinated and must wear masks while inside the venue.
Our COVID-19 policies are subject to change at any time. Please refer to your show’s event page for show-specific vaccine and mask requirements, and continue to check prior to visiting Brooklyn Bowl.
The health of our guests, staff, and performers remains our highest priority, and we appreciate your understanding as we continue to navigate this continually-evolving situation.
Like all the best rock ‘n’ roll mythology, the final page of the Spin Doctors’ biography remains forever unwritten. But if the band’s story is to begin anywhere, it should be at New York’s New School university in the fall of ’88, when a fateful door-knock sparked the first meeting of Comess and guitarist Eric Schenkman. Trading as the Trucking Company, Schenkman, local legend John Popper and a charisma-bomb vocalist named Chris Barron had been making a glorious noise in the clubs downtown. But when Popper committed himself to Blues Traveler, the remnants sought new blood. Having assured Schenkman that he’d “check them out,” Comess formed a ferocious rhythm section with Bronx-raised bassist Mark White. “When I first met them,” recalls White, “I thought, ‘These are some funky-assed white boys.’ I’m the black guy in the band, and they had to teach me to play the blues.”
Led by relentless touring, the album sold steadily – but within a year, Epic had declared it “dead” and pushed the band to return to the studio. “But we decided to go back on the road,” says Comess, “as we felt the buzz building and believed in the record. Sure enough, within a few months, Jim McGuinn up in Vermont started playing “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and it went to #1. He wrote to the head of Epic, telling him they’d be crazy not to push this band. That was the fuel that lit the fire.”
Barron still recalls the circus when Pocket Full Of Kryptonite exploded in 1992 (“When we were selling 50,000 records a week, I’d walk into a mall to buy underwear and 300 kids would surround me”). Pass a record store and you’d hear the tills ring, as that all-conquering debut album marched towards 10 million sales. Pass a news-stand and you’d see the lineup staring back from the cover of Rolling Stone. Flick on MTV and you were serenaded by planet-straddling follow-up hit “Two Princes,” whose irresistible groove and scream-it-back chorus took it to #4 on the Top 100 singles chart and more US radio spins than any other rock ‘n’ roll song in 1993. “When you’re freaking popular,” says White, “and people are throwing themselves at you, if you don’t like that, you’re on the wrong planet.”
Long-term strategy has never been the Spin Doctors’ style. While cultural commentators have long since given up plotting the trajectory of this most unpredictable band, it’s a revelation to learn that the lineup themselves have no road map. “For the next album,” considers Barron, “I kinda want to stay spontaneous. I’d personally like to make a quarter-turn and do a rock record. But I have a feeling it’s gonna get funky. Y’know, there’s that great quote from Keith Richards when he went to meet Mick Jagger at AIR Studios to make Steel Wheels. And he told his wife – ‘I’ll either be back tomorrow or in a month’. I think that’s how it’s gonna go for us, too.”
Thirty years. A thousand twists. But whatever happens down the road, rest assured that the Spin Doctors will always be the last men standing, still making music like their lives depend on it, still riding the bus, still shaking the room. “It’s been a great ride,” considers Comess. Then he adds: “So far…"
But that’s not the only element in his work that injects the personal into the universal through the creative process of song writing and performance for him. According to Lopez, “there is also a story that I tell in each song that is basically my own way of dealing with stuff going on in my life [and it] helps me face myself when I sing it out loud.” The prolific Lopez has been on a tear of late, what Félix Contreras of NPR’s Alt.Latino calls “a one-man song factory,” releasing a string of ear-catching autobiographical singles that have gotten increasingly more Latinized over time, while still maintaining elements of the funk, rock and soul (and even doo-wop) he has become known for since the 1990s. But the ‘Latinization’ of Rene Lopez, or better put, the return to Rene’s Latin roots, is thematic and situational as well as formal, because the sense of otherness, of being an immigrant or from a certain urban ethnic neighborhood infuses his recent output like a waft of tasty Caribbean cooking from abuelita’s kitchen back on the island or the local Puerto Rican restaurant on the city corner. This is an exciting development that feels as nourishing and authentic as the best meal from your home country can be when you’re feeling nostalgic or in need of some serious replenishing sustenance. What makes these new songs so authentic sounding (when in fact they are more of a fresh hybrid than an old-school replica) is the fact that, as Lopez puts it, he is “being completely honest with who I am, and a big part of that is my Latin roots,” as well as telling stories of personal relationships and experiences in an unflinching way.
In Lopez’s latest single “Flamingo” the summery Caribbean roots are strong, with the Cuban son montuno and cha-cha-chá rubbing hips with Jamaican ska rhythms, a mix that provides an exciting structure to the English lyrics while the call-and-response chorus recalls the ubiquitous party atmosphere conjured by the salsa tunes that were in the air everywhere during Lopez’s childhood. Lyrically, Lopez’s honesty is laid bare for all to hear, and he seems to strike a precarious balance between confidence and vulnerability, at once coming on like a swaggering Latin Lover but also subverting that stereotype at the same time, if you know how to read between the lines (“You need a lover like me” vs. “I don’t have the courage or money to take you out for the night”). In a recent interview Lopez confesses he wrote this about a person in his life with whom he had fallen deeply in love after he got divorced. “She was the most special woman I ever met and it was amazing being together,” but because of where they both were in their lives (he was much older and already had kids and she was young ready to start a family), he new he had to let her go. This experience was “extremely difficult and heartbreaking,” Lopez says, but he wanted her to be happy so the relationship ended before too much damage could be done. The song however dates from the initial period of infatuation, when Lopez first met her, as he was inspired to create a tribute to the “beautiful flamingo” who “brought me so much happiness when I was down in the dumps.” The flamingo is a reality-defying bird that is at once graceful and outlandish and is the perfect metaphor for the object of his ultimately unattainable love, adding to the sense of doomed romance born out by the incompatibility of the couple’s circumstances that ended the relationship. The song is full of yearning for love and healing, where the singer confesses, “I’m the diamond in the ruff, If you help shine me up, I’ll sing the prettiest lullaby, Rock you through the night.” There’s a certain fantastical flight of romantic fantasy that lends a wistful, dreamlike quality to the song when Lopez croons, “Even though I can’t fly, I’ll build you a mystic ship, Sail and watch the stars dance, Along my finger tips,” and this overtly romantic, poetic vibe also keys crucially into another Latin musical sensibility that Lopez taps into so well, namely the classic traditions of the bolero, balada and canción (as well as salsa romántica) that come from the heart as much as the head, feet and hips. As a new height of achievement in Rene Lopez’s ever-expanding catalog of gorgeously intriguing singles, “Flamingo” takes flight and certainly leaves you wondering what fresh angle on his Latin roots will the talented Nuyorican singer-songwriter explore next.