Sparta brought Wiretap Scars to recordBar in a 2002 time travel experiment

Support acts included Zeta and Geoff Rickly of Thursday with an intimate solo set.
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Sparta at recordBar on June 3, 2023. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

June 3rd at recordBar saw KC gifted with an experiment in tunneling through time, as returning champions of yesteryear screamo turned out in force for a receptive crowd of devoted followers.

Venezuelan post-rock outfit Zeta brought their trio of percussionists and their memorable wall of sound to kick off the night. Things pivoted hard into the opposite sonic direction as middle act Geoff Rickly (lead singer of Thursday) took the stage for an intimate solo affair.

The lyricist turned novelist gave the most casual possible outing from the man who taught a generation how to scream in a jet black New Year, with self-described gothic country renditions of some of Thursday’s biggest hits, a few War All The Time deep cuts, and a Phil Spector girl group-inspired romp about the abusive relationship with his drug dealer. It was an inspiring, open-wound share sesh—less performance and more catch-up among friends.

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Geoff Rickly solo at recordBar on June 3, 2023. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

Sparta finally took the stage, and launched directly into the opening riff of “Cut Your Ribbon.” One thing I’ll never get tired of from albums live in concert is having a group kick-off with the track one, side one by way of an entrance. It’s perfect. And as perfect as that moment could be, within the first minute there was a sort of imperfection that settled upon the show. The jarring directness with which the opener propelled carried directly into a pause of mere seconds before the next track. Then came a third. For anyone familiar with Sparta and singer Jim Ward, to know the band is to know that the man loves to talk between songs. Ward would not introduce the band or himself until after the final note of the final song from the album.

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Sparta at recordBar on June 3, 2023. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

“Gloriously disorienting” is perhaps the best way to summarize the night’s ability to perform time travel with a few simple but severe creative choices like this. Ward directly acknowledged how this distance allowed the album to exist in a vacuum for its fans as they’d originally approached it. For a band that had no interest in touring behind this album—who took a self-described “mental health decade” retired from touring—this made for a perfect teleportation. Wiretap Scars in its entirety, followed by a few greatest hits tracks from their other albums and no encore? Truly the pinnacle of what these anniversary tours should look like: artists 20 years better than they were when they created the work, not pretending to be 20 years younger, and welcoming all in their wake. Unburdened by nostalgia. Free and alive.

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Sparta at recordBar on June 3, 2023. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

Sparta Set List:

Cut Your Ribbon
Sans Cost
Light Burns Clear
Red Alibi
Rx Coup
Glasshouse Tarot
Echodyne Harmonic
Assemble the Empire

Breaking the Broken
While Oceana Sleeps
Empty Houses

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Sparta at recordBar on June 3, 2023. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

Categories: Music