A welcome reunion mini-tour for this band born of the ashes of the legendary At the Drive-In makes a stop in Boise, and a couple hundred people rejoice.
When I heard last year that At the Drive-In had rejoined forces and would be releasing new music, I was instantly excited – and also curious if Jim Ward would be part of the festivities. Although I am obviously not privy to details, it is rumored that when ATDI split 15 years ago, Jim left in less than good graces and vowed never to join that group again. However, his next project, called Sparta, made some solid music and their three albums from 2002-2006 are all worthy of a listen. This is high-energy, almost spastic at times, punk and emo-infused rock/metal, similar to ATDI but a little more accessible and with Jim Ward running the show instead of playing backup to the mad scientist genius of Cedric Bixler-Zavala and Omar Rodriguez Lopez.
The news that Boise’s Neurolux Lounge would be part of their first tour in over five years (Jim called it a “mini tour to get their feet wet” when I talked to him after the show), I jumped at the chance to check them out. They played three brand new songs, leading me to ask both Jim and lead-guitarist Gabe Gutierrez if there would be a new record to look forward to. Jim was non-committal, saying only that they were playing with some songs and would see how it went. Gabe was a little more forthright, and basically said to look out for a new Sparta record at some point in the next year.
Regardless of where these guys decide to go from here, they still “got it”. Jim sounded amazing and had all the energy I expected, even though he is on the “wrong” side of 40, and his band was honestly the star of the show. In particular, the frenzied and fast paced guitar shredding that Gabe brought, often accompanied with ferocious backing vocals (screaming). Speaking of somehow being over 40 already, Jim told a funny story of his love for the Neurolux and having his first martini here in 1998 while touring with ATDI.
A sincere thank you to Jim and especially Gabe for not only a great show that made me sweat my ass off, but for giving me tons of time with them afterwards to talk music, life, and all things Sparta (oh, and for the handful of drink tickets).
Graveyard Luck (new, unreleased)
Taking Back Control
Guns of Memorial Park
While Oceana Sleeps
Cat Scream (new, unreleased)
The Most Vicious Crime
Light Burns Clear
Fight Love (new, unreleased)
Breaking the Broken
Spotify playlist link: