Fort Wayne, Indiana
Jason Davis may well be running a museum of sorts. Davis works in curating and bending sounds behind the console as Off the Cuff Sound’s head engineer, producer, and overall mechanical wizard. This sonic workshop is a unique and rare musical instrument orphanage where independent and like-minded musicians come to create and document their vision. Such places can easily become hard to leave. It was this fear mixed with the love of live music that led to the creation of Streetlamps for Spotlights in 2004.
A mix of post-punk, early 80s alternative pop and even shards of art rock permeate the Streetlamps for Spotlights (SfS) sonic world. Streetlamps for Spotlights have put out several 45s and LPs on Davis’ Off the Cuff Records. As far as touring, SfS are no strangers to stages across the Midwest; including shows in Chicago, Detroit, Madison, Milwaukee, Grand Rapids, Columbus, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Toledo, Athens, Dayton, Akron, Louisville, Lexington, Indianapolis, and Bloomington, Indiana. They’ve shared some of those stages with Dinosaur Jr, The Whigs, Woven Bones, Six Parts Seven, Mr. Gnome, The Pack AD, The Hussy, and We are Hex.
Davis is a skillful songsmith and with the help of band members Jay Hackbush (bass) and Andy Sheets (drums), Davis’ songs truly come alive. Hackbush and Sheets are a formidable wall of low end and percussive strength. They lay down a melodic rhythmic foundation that is steeped in the great traditions of both progressive power trios like Red-era King Crimson, Cream, and Blue Cheer; as well as the immeasurable importance that Mowtown put on a solid rhythm section. The contribution of Hackbush and Sheets to the sound of SfS brings energy and thrill to every concert attendee listening.
As a live trio, SfS is a raw and frenzied sound that brings to mind both the jagged energy of the Lower East Side in the mid-70s, as well as a band well-oiled from many rehearsals and jam sessions going over their tight sets and churning a camaraderie between these three veteran musicians. In other words, SfS live on stage is a force to be reckoned with.
The most recent album from Streetlamps for Spotlights was last summer’s excellent Millenium Summer EP. When speaking with Midwest arts and entertainment magazine Whatzup in 2018 about the EP, Davis had this to say, “There are not 96 tracks or 15 synth parts. Vocals weren’t comp’d from 8 takes and then tuned. Drums not quantized or pocketed. Nor are there stacks of guitar tracks. There are keyboards, Hammond organ, electric piano, and baby grand piano on the record. I like to think tastefully sprinkled where appropriate. Just because the studio has an arsenal of instruments doesn’t mean we have to use them all.” In other words, Millenium Summer was recorded so that when you see SfS live you feel like you’re hearing what was put to tape.
Streetlamps for Spotlights is a Midwest rock and roll institution. With Jason Davis on vocals and guitar, Jay Hackbush on bass, and Andy Sheets on drums, these three musicians build sonic blasts of buzzing, jangly emotional exorcisms. Their sound is raw and buzzing but not overwhelming. It’s pure and gritty pop, as seen through an eschewed and bristling rock and roll lens.