Spin Doctors bring 20 years of Kryptonite to Syracuse

Review: The 90s rockers played their hit album Pocket Full of Kryptonite in its entirety at The Westcott Theater

The audience at The Westcott Theater was split Friday night.

On one hand there were run-of-the-mill college kids – 90s babies. On the other, a crowd of folks who might have passed for their parents.

Regardless, both groups were there to see the Spin Doctors play their 1991 Triple Platinum album Pocket Full of Kyrptonite, performed in sequence on its 20th anniversary.The Spin Doctors 1991 album Pocket Full of Kryptonite

Singer/songwriter James Maddock, a native of England, opened up the show. He was a trip. In New Balance sneakers and a gray sweatshirt (which he took a few minutes to wrestle off at one point while still wearing the guitar) he shredded his vocal chords, rasping his way through a 45-minute set, unsuccessfully keeping his Robert Plant-esque curly hair out of his face.

Maddock stopped to tune. He turned a few keys on his guitar, strummed, scrunched up his face and said, “sounds pretty good.”

And it did.

Then, without saying much, the Spin Doctors took the stage. Lead singer Chris Barron, who moves like he’s made of rubber, spun around, kicked out his foot and launched into “Jimmy Olsen’s Blues,” the song whose lyric about Superman’s only weakness lends itself to the album's title.

Pocket Full of Kryponite wasn’t an immediate hit when it was released in 1991. The band's label, Epic Records, was busy launching grunge rockers Pearl Jam, and gave the Doctors little attention. The tracks “Little Miss Can’t Be Wrong” and “Two Princes” eventually found their way to the airwaves, Billboard charts and background soundtrack of the 90s. The album would go on to sell 5 million copies.

Twenty years later, on a blustery Friday night in Syracuse, the band sailed through the songs comfortably, clearly enjoying the show.

Despite a bout with vocal chord paralysis in the late 90s, Barron sounded great. In many ways, it was like seeing high school classmates who have sorted themselves out and are finally comfortable in their own skin.

Barron told a story of how a conversation with a friend about girl turned into the chorus for “Two Princes.” Should Barron pursue her? His friend answered, “just go ahead now.”

“So, Eric put in a minor chord, Aaron put in a really great drum fill, and now we never have to work a real job again,” Barron said of guitarist Eric Schenkman and drummer Aaron Comess.

Schenkman took over on lead vocals on “Off My Line,” a funky tune about a soured relationship. As always, Barron did his rubbery dance moves and and goofily pointed from Schenkman to the crowd as if to say, “can you believe this guy?”

The Spin Doctors played through the album in a little over an hour. After blending together the last two tracks, “How Could You Want Him (When You Know You Could Have Me)” and “Shin Bone Alley/Hard to Exist,” Barron, Schenkman and bassist Mark White, played out and stepped to the side, leaving Comess to rock an extended drum solo under the spotlight.

White also got his turn, ripping through bass riffs and vibrating the small plush dolls (including SpongeBob SquarePants) pinned to his guitar strap.

After the band came back out for the encore, Barron said they’d play the “deep cuts,” drawing back from an early time when they had to play blues to get gigs in New York City, hence rambling, grooving tunes like “Traction Blues.”

And at the end, Barron struck that iconic hands-on-hips Superman pose.

Maybe after all these years, Jimmy Olsen’s still got a thing for Lois Lane.

Spin Doctors

Good review, Erin Carson. I definitely qualify in the parent category. Sounds like it was a fun show. Good attention to detail.

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