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Concert Review: Sponge at Royal Oak Music Theatre

by Casey Schwochow

It’s been 20 years since Sponge released their second full-length major studio album Wax Ecstatic. It’s a diverse thematic album and was quite progressive for a 90’s band being played on MTV. This past weekend, Sponge played the album in its entirety at the Royal Oak Music Theatre, and we here at HWID weren’t going to miss it.

The night not only brought out the current band lineup consisting of Vinnie Dombroski on Vocals, Andy Patalan and Kyle Neely on Guitars, Tim Patalan on Bass, and Billy Adams on Drums, but we were also treated to the addition of Johnny Evans on Saxophone and Chris Codish on Keyboards. Both Evans and Codish played on Wax Ecstatic back in 1996, so it was great to see some of the original recording members on stage.

The opening song, “The Death of a Drag Queen,” tells a gruesome tale of a late night murder. It would be quite an arduous task to remember the last time the band has played this song live. Next, they played “My Purity” and the hit “Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)”. These songs not only spotlight Vinnie Dombroski as a lyrical genius, but they also show he has an incredible voice. Vinnie is a true entertainer and his stage presence commanded attention as soon as he graced it that evening. The musicianship was nothing short of stellar, and we got a chance to hear songs that haven’t been played since 1996, such as “I Am Anastasia” and “My Baby Said”. Guitarist Andy Patalan even used a Talk Box to apply wicked speech sounds during “Got to Be a Bore”.

Vinnie broke out some Maracas for “Silence Is Their Drug” and the dazzling array of string lights around the stage added such an incredible ambience to the performance.

Vinnie noted how they wrote a set list for the first time in a while and how guitarists Andy and Kyle wrote their’s on the ‘Do Not Disturb’ hangers of their hotel rooms. Vinnie showed off Andy’s as proof and had a good laugh at how, that in a world of set lists being displayed on ipads, Sponge writes theirs.

At this point the band broke away from Wax Ecstatic tracks to play “Molly (16 Candles)”, “Pennywheels”, and “Plowed” off their debut Rotting Piñata. Then they gave us “The Whores Are Closing In” and “Jump While The House Is On Fire” from their latest album, The Beer Sessions. We enjoyed every minute of it.

Sponge closed out with “Velveteen,” which saw bassist Tim Patalan playing the Cello and his brother, Andy, grabbing an acoustic guitar for the heartfelt memoir.

Hearing Wax Ecstatic reproduced live 20 years after it was released was so awesome. The album has special place in my musical history, and it’s just as fresh now as ever. Especially since Sponge refuses to give the album any less than it deserves.


Set List:
The Death of a Drag Queen
My Purity
Wax Ecstatic (To Sell Angelina)
Got to Be a Bore
The Drag Queens Of Memphis
Silence Is Their Drug
Have You Seen Mary
My Baby Said
Molly (16 Candles)
The Whores Are Closing In
Jump While The House Is On Fire

2 thoughts on “Concert Review: Sponge at Royal Oak Music Theatre

    1. They didn’t play Imagine You?? Best song on the damn album!! (And one of the best “hidden” tracks of all time).

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