A sudden downpour and flooded streets couldn’t stop a massive crowd from filling the seats of the Charleston Music Hall. Toad the Wet Sprocket and Marcy Playground brought their catalog of hits to downtown Charleston. For three decades, both bands have filled the air waves. You have no doubt heard at least one of their songs, you may not know the title, but I can almost guarantee you know all the lyrics. Toad the Wet Sprocket or TTWS for short, have crafted some of the late 90s most memorable songs and as a result have acquired a loyal and dedicated fan base of die hard Toadies. It was clear from the packed venue that Charleston had no lack of Toadies and they came to rock. As lead singer of TTWS Glen Phillips said during the show, “you guys brought a friday night vibe to a Sunday”. And I would have to agree.
Marcy Playground took to the stage and opened with the song “Poppies” off of their self titled debut album. Heavy flange on grunge riffs and a melancholy lyrical delivery made “Poppies” the perfect opener. It was clear that Marcy Playground came to deliver their signature sound to the masses. The trio of John “Woz” Wozinak (lead guitar vocals), Dylan Keefe (bass), and Sholomi Lavie (drums) used the large stage to their advantage. Energetically dancing across the stage. John and Dylan even had a duel strumming face off. At one point John’s guitar seemed to morph into a deadly weapon during “Rebel Sodville” off the album Shapeshifter. With every guitar hook John would don his guitar like a machine gun. Of course the crowd really lost it when they performed their most famous tune “Sex n’ Candy”, a song that has been a part of pop culture since its release in 1997.
TTWS started their set off a little slower as the lights dimmed and Glen Phillips' signature bare feet crossed the stage. Followed by the other two original members Todd Nicols (lead guitar) and Dean Dinning (bass). They opened with the song “Windmills” from their 1994 album Dulcinea. Setting a slower pace than Marcy but still captivating the audience, Glen’s acoustic guitar elevated his vocals with a beautiful melody. From the first lyric until the very last, the audience was entranced. As the show went on, I found myself scanning the crowd and noticed it was a giant singalong. Every audience member knew every lyric to every song. A true testament to TTWS musical success. When they got to the song “All I Want'' the song from their 1991 debut album Fear that skyrocketed them into the limelight, fans were dancing up and down the aisles completely swept up in the moment, with absolutely no thoughts about work the next day.
Things really ignited when Glen introduced a “local” artist the band seemingly found around Charleston. That “local” was famous Charlestontonian Darius Rucker! After the crowd settled from their initial shock, Darius and TTWS performed an excellent cover of the Indigo Girls' song “Closer to Fine” with Darrus doing the heavy vocal lifting.
TTWS is known for their love of performing live and for absolutely adoring their fans and it was apparent as they continued to serenade the audience. Walking the line between folk and alternative rock, TTWS gave the fans what they wanted. Hits like “Good Intentions”off their 1992 sophomore outing In Light Syrup really got the audience in motion. A stand out moment for me was when the sometimes sleepy music hall echoed with the lyrics of "Walk on the Ocean”. The show felt a bit like comfort food...hearty, fulfilling, and ultimately left you wanting seconds.