It’s hard to imagine a more potent combination of great music and community feeling than what went down over the course of two nights last week when Toad the Wet Sprocket played the Lobero Theatre. The Beatles in Liverpool? The Grateful Dead in San Francisco? R.E.M in Athens? No doubt these would all be fine experiences, but this match, between Santa Barbara’s most successful rock band and the adoring crowd who grew up here listening to their music, would give any other scene a run for its money.
Openers Woodburning Project provided a solid set full of powerful chord progressions and surging vocal lines courtesy of front man Sean Kennedy, and the people responded. But after the intermission, when the five musicians who make up today’s touring version of Toad took the stage, the place roared in approval.
They played all the hits — “Walk on the Ocean,” “Fall Down,” and “All I Want” — plus many more cuts, including “California Wasted” and the night’s sentimental climax, “I Will Not Take These Things for Granted.” And they sounded great, full of the earnest intensity that first brought them to the attention of radio listeners back in the early 1990s. Parents were in the audience, as in both people with children to get home to and the people who gave life to the musicians onstage, and the whole night felt like a long celebration of what a strong family can do, not only in terms of music, but also as a force that brings people together.