Vermont-based jam band Twiddle started its three-night residency on Thursday at the Paradise Rock Club with a fiery, high energy show. The members of the band are Mihali Savoulidis (guitar, vocals), Ryan Dempsey (keyboards, vocals), Zdenek Gubb (bass, vocals), and Brook Jordan (drums, percussion, vocals). Twiddle kept the audience members on their feet as the band traversed through different musical styles, masterfully playing funk, reggae, jazz, and everything in between. Fans of the band are correct in saying that Twiddle’s studio recordings pale in comparison to their live performances, which involves mesmerizing improvisation and creation.
Broccoli Samurai, a quartet from Ohio, performed an experimental-sounding opening set. Among the highlights was a spacey rendition of the Rick and Morty theme song, to which the crowd reacted with overwhelming enthusiasm. Drummer Cameron Binkley held the band down and allowed them to explore musically, and occasionally dove into ferocious solos of his own. Savoulidis and Dempsey sat in during the opening set, giving the audience a taste of what was to come.
When Twiddle took the stage around 10 p.m., the club was full to the brim. Both the floor and the mezzanine levels were packed, but it didn’t stop the eclectic crowd from moving to the music. College kids, 30-something year olds, and older hippies joined together in the name of good music.
“Syncopated Beauty” was the highlight of the first set. The song went well beyond 10 minutes, alternating between Savoulidis’ vocals and the band’s inventive jams. The lyrics of the chorus, “Relax and dream one day at a time / Let the beauty of the music start to heal your life,” accurately described the general sentiment of the crowd. The audience watched with amazement as beautiful jams unfolded on stage between the bandmates. Throughout the night, especially during “Syncopated Beauty,” the playing of the band mates merged into one. Savoulidis’ fingers sprinted across the fretboard as he strung together incredibly long solos. Dempsey’s keyboard playing accentuated the solos by sprinkling in high notes that complemented Savoulidis’ angelic guitar tone. Gubb wove in bouncy bass lines that maintained the integrity of the groove, and Jordan propelled the band forward on the drums. The moments leading up to the climax of the jam sent the crowd into a frenzy, and everyone rejoiced as the band reached the peak of the mountainous jam. The jam felt cathartic, as if the beauty of the music really had a healing effect.
The second set ended with fan favorite, “Jamflowman.” The song is fun and upbeat, and tells a story about the fictional Jamflowman, a prodigal guitarist who has the ability to make the crowd go wild. The band’s cohesion was on full display as they simultaneously broke into jazz grooves mere seconds after jamming in a reggae style. The audience mirrored these musical pivots, launching themselves into frenetic dancing as dictated by the tempo and style of the music. The song had many euphoric moments of its own, and the audience reacted with appropriate pandemonium. Savoulidis wowed the audience with his guitar speed, which sounded great in combination with Gubb’s complex bass riffs. Gubb shined during this song, slapping the bass with fervor. The crowd loved his stage presence, cheering him on as he sauntered around the stage in bare feet, connecting with audience members in the midst of the jam. When the song finally ended, many, many minutes after it started, the crowd loudly thanked the band.
Twiddle returned to the stage for an encore, covering the Grateful Dead classic, “Eyes of the World.” The audience loved the song selection, as the Dead were the pioneers of the jam-band musical style that Twiddle has adopted. In this final song, the band let loose and improvised more than they had at any other point in the show. While earlier jams were impressively tight and coordinated, the spontaneous creation was apparent in the final jam of “Eyes of the World.” The band experimented and worked off of each other, which resulted in a transcendent sonic peak that was the cherry on top of the musical sundae that the audience happily devoured all night long. The show ended around 1 a.m., but the band infused the audience with enough energy to last all night.