On Saturday, one of the region’s longtime favorite bands celebrated its 25th anniversary with a reunion at the Tarara Summer Concert Series.
Gonzo’s Nose was long one of the most in-demand bands in the region, but as the band members’ lives got busy with jobs and families, they decided to retire the band after one last show in January 2017. But for the band members, all of whom are classically trained musicians and friends, and some of whom make their livings performing today, it was too hard to step away completely. Now, Gonzo’s Nose shows are a rare and crowded experience, with the band only playing two or three shows a year.
Formed in 1996, their performances took them up and down the east coast and even overseas, embracing the most fun, high-energy—in their words, cheesiest—songs and dubbing themselves a dedicated party band, with a massive and ever-growing setlist spanning four decades. At Tarara on Saturday night where they were joined by some former band members to celebrate the anniversary. And they continue to add new songs even for their rare performances today.
“Even now, when we’re just doing two shows a year, we’re still adding new songs every show,” said drummer Steve Spishak.
After 25 years of performing, drummer Spishak is the only remaining original member, one of the original four who met through their time at the College of William and Mary. He said unlike other popular cover bands in the region, with a fairly rigid setlist and established jokes and banter, the focus for Gonzo’s Nose was already on the music.
“We never had an act,” he said. “Our whole thing was based on the music, because everyone that founded the band had classic music training, everyone in the band now has classical musical training.”
Spishak is plays in the band these days with musicians like Mike Webb, chief musician and singer with the U.S. Navy Band who also sang opera at The Met, and bassist Andreas Holmstrom, a graduate of the Berklee School of Music and a full-time gig musician. And on Saturday, they were joined by two former members: singer Adrian Felts, the band’s original singer, and singer and keyboard player Colleen Wright, who performed from 1997 not long after the band’s founding until 2002.
Gonzo’s Nose has long been a feature of the Tarara concert series. “We love summer festivals in general. They’re super fun, and they tend to be easy gigs—anything I can back my car up to the stage and leave it there, as opposed to getting into fistfights on loading docks with caterers, I’m there,” Spishak joked.