Sparta with Geoff Rickly and Zeta
Headliners Music Hall
August 9th, 2023
Texas rock band Sparta recently brought their current tour, which celebrates 20 years of their iconic 2002 debut album Wiretap Scars, to Headliners Music Hall to a modest but passionate crowd of fans! Starting things off this evening was Venezuelan post-rock band Zeta, a band I was not familiar with but who no doubt made many fans this evening with their fun and interesting blend of prog-punk fusion, infused with polyrhythmic percussion and Afro-Carribean beats. Comprised of founders and multi-instrumentalists Juan Chi and Dani Debuto, along with Chino Sandoval on drums and Antonio Pereira on bass, their fun and uplifting energy permeated the room. It was impossible to not move your body to the beats and see the passion with which the band performed their songs, feeling the music and having fun with each other and with the crowd. They talked very little throughout their set, letting their music do the talking, playing a variety of traditional and non-traditional instrumentation. They were a perfect start to the evening!
Next up was Geoff Rickly of the post-hardcore band Thursday, performing a solo set on this tour. With just him and an acoustic guitar on stage, he performed acoustic renditions of Thursday songs such as “Understanding In A Car Crash” and the bands first ever song, “This Side of Brightness”, with the crowd singing along to each one. Rickly has a powerful and distinctive voice, which really stood out this evening in the soft acoustic setting. Full of good stories and good humor, he chatted quite a bit with the crowd between songs, telling tales of his life and of the band and making people laugh with his humorous spin on even more serious occurrences. He also announced his recently released book Someone Who Isn’t Me, an auto-fiction account of his struggles with heroin and treatment. Thanking everyone for coming out, he said he would be be at the merch table meeting people and signing copies of his book.
Closing out the evening was Sparta. Launching into Wiretap Scars as soon as they took the stage, the band blew through the 12-song album at a furious pace, with the crowd singing along at the top of their lungs. A popular album upon it’s release, it was clear that it is still well-loved by the band’s passionate fans and has stood the test of time! At the end of the album, singer/guitarist Jim Ward joked with the crowd a bit, saying “We played the whole album without talking to give you all the full experience and allow you to live in the moment. And if you know how much I love to talk, you know how hard that was for me!”. The band then played 5 more songs, including “Breaking The Broken”, “While Oceana Sleeps”, “Empty Houses”, “Miracle”, and ending the evening with “Atlas”. Before finishing their set, Ward told the crowd how appreciative he is of the community for letting a 17 year old kid do this and tour the world, first in At The Drive In and then with Sparta. He went on to say that with both bands, he has been to Louisville a lot and that the city holds a special place in his heart and that he loves Louisville. Album anniversary shows are always fun and special, as it adds a nostalgic element to the evening. Being a fan of this album when it came out in 2002, I love it just as much today, and it was evident that many in the crowd felt the same way. The band sounded great, as if we were listening to the CD. It was a great night of music!