Tenured Vermont jam-band Twiddle, in a sentence, is truly an ensemble without a peer. Something about the soft but powerful vocals of lead singer Mihali Savoulidis combined with the band’s chemistry dating back over a dozen years to the dorm room where they first began, meet to facilitate their mission to hypnotize audiences while never giving them the same show twice. Their passion for the music they create has taken them all over the world, earning accolades from casual festival goers to even Senator Bernie Sanders (who has in the past been very vocal of his support for the band) and virtually everybody in between. Recently, the winds blew them west to San Francisco, as Twiddle played a marathon of a show to an intimate but enthusiastic crowd to the historic Fillmore as a part of their humbly titled “Winter 2019” tour in a well-received performance that was anything but phoned in.
Having released two new live albums in the month before, the fans in attendance were undoubtedly well aware of the energy Twiddle brings to their concerts, but even the most seasoned zealot could not have predicted every turn this night would take. An evening that truly justified the price of admission, Twiddle gave a performance consisting of two sets and an encore, tallying several hours in length, and holding the Bay Area’s attention all the way through.
As the band took the stage, one detail in particular caught the house’s eye. Mihali Savoulidis’ signature waste-length lion’s mane was not atop his head, a move that was made just a few days prior, and one that surely was intended to showcase the artist’s intention to mature and show his growth. The sign of Savoulidis’ evolution was, however, not a deterrent in the audience’s reception of the band’s grand entrance. The crowd roared as the quartet took their places onstage. After a brief acknowledgement of the crowd, what followed was an extended opening jam that foreshadowed a well-received night of musical extemporization.
In a concert elapsing several hours, time almost seemed to lose all meaning. As the band jammed on, their music flowed seamlessly, captivating the house for hours on end. Rarely taking any kind of a break that would interrupt their flow, their first set was curated in true jam-band fashion with frugal use of lyrics, but impassioned instrumental improvisation featuring heavy use of the keyboard and guitar solos from Savoulidis that were as long and magnificent as he is Greek.
While the volume of the crowd may not have filled the venue’s capacity, every person in the Fillmore that night made it clear that there was no place on earth they would rather be. The crowd took full advantage of the extra space, whimsically dancing throughout the night. As Twiddle finished their first set with a glittering light show behind them. Savoulidis announced that they would be back for a second set and that the show would continue soon. Despite it being close to 11:00pm on a week night, the crowd stayed intact, with very few leaving the venue for the night.
After a brief intermission, Twiddle returned for their second set of the night. While their second act was still incredibly jam-heavy, it had a much heavier lyrical presence. The band opened with a long rendition of their hit “Lost in the Cold” which quickly turned into an audience sing along. Presumably inspired by the crowd’s vocals, Nathan Feinstein, lead singer of opening band Iya Terra, joined Twiddle on stage for an impromptu verse. Taking center stage, arms open wide in his usual animated fashion, his flamboyance was a welcomed presence from the already enamored crowd.
Like “I Dreamed a Dream” in Les Mis, the chord progression for Lost in the Cold replayed several times throughout the set, helping with transitions and anchoring the piece. The group showed their comfort with each other as performers and once again spent much of the set having fun with spontaneous experimentation. The music took a more defined direction well into the set as Savoulidis turned to each member of the band and touched the top of his hat to signify he was about to solo, the rest of the band followed in suit, each soloing at their own luxury.
After a full show spanning several hours, Twiddle finished their second set just after the stroke of midnight, but still obliged the audiences pleads for an encore, returning to the stage for a long rendition of “Hattibagen McRat,” ending the night with an upbeat and enthusiastic feel. After the last cord was struck, Savoulidis had a grin that stretched from ear to ear. Throwing his pick into the crowd, he thanked the audience and took his leave, but the audience lingered just a few minutes longer, soaking in the energy of the night. In a show that could not have possibly given the audience any more, Twiddle once again proved that they alone lead the pack in today’s jam-band community.