The results of the first annual uTwiddle.net Year-End Survey are here! Over 90 fans helped make this sampling of Twiddlenaughts what it is and like the community at large, it couldn't have been done without your help. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill-out the survey. Now on to it...
Getting started, the average surveyee saw eight shows this year. The fewest shows a fan saw being 1 and the most being 25. The favorite tour by far was the final tour of the year, the PLUMP December To Remember tour which started by celebrating the release of PLUMP: Chapter One with two sold-out nights at the Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, New York followed by sold-out shows at the Paradise in Boston and a stellar three-night-run at Higher Ground in South Burlington, VT. In second place was the TWERK Tour which featured alternating headlining sets with The Werks as well as a brand new cover each night and a primary contributor to the favorite new cover graph. Rounding out the top three was the Dirty Dozen Tour with Kung Fu. This tour featured super jams galore and more sit-ins than a college protest. There were no set breaks as each band would join the other at the end of the set and jam into the next or come out together for the encore. Twiddlenaughts love Frends of Twiddle it would seem!
As far as new originals went, nothing was as popular as the blissful power rock of Amydst The Myst. The song was debuted alongside Five at a private soundcheck (2015-02-14) for Kickstarter backers of the PLUMP album project. The song has quickly grown into a versatile vehicle for both jams and setting the mood as it often finds itself at the beginning of a set. Now its not surprising that The Don of Dayton Blues, a (presumably one-off) joke song primarily about pooping (source), rounded out the end (only 1 vote) but I feel we still haven't seen the full breadth of what Dusk 'til Dawn has to offer. Of all the new songs, it has just one play less than Five putting it at the least played new song with the exception of Complacent Race which debuted January 1st, 2016 and thus disqualified it from this year's survey. So what am I saying here? I want to hear more DTD! The song has the kind of melody that lingers in the back of your mind for days. The acoustic nature of the song is possibly what limits its applicability in most sets which is also likely why Five is in the same boat as far as how often it's played but I hope we'll see plenty more of the tune in 2016.
Twiddle has always been able to take a cover and make it their own. From Led Zeppelin's D'Yer Maker to the Jackson Five's I Want You Back, really no genre is off-limits. That openness translated very well with other bands like Kung Fu and The Werks who also know how to appreciate another artists' fine work when they hear it! The Dirty Dozen and TWERK tours both had a tradition of fantastic covers every evening, often times during an encore to close-out the show. While the stirringly beautiful moment that was The Werks and Twiddle strumming brand new Martin guitars and alternating verses to The Band's The Weight (listen to the show) put up a good fight, the fans just love them some Twiddle. The fan voted favorite cover is also one of the more out-of-nowhere covers. Near the end of the 1st set of 12/12, right after an acoustic Five the band played a stand-alone version of The Proclaimers' I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) which segued into the Mortal Kombat Theme and then back into 500 miles to close out the first set of the second night of the two-night sold-out Paradise Run in Boston (that was a mouthful!). When re-listening, you can hear the happiness in the room and through Mihali's voice, while all the other cover tunes on here were fun and some funny, this one really felt special. Not to mention there is a real serious jam before they ever breach the MK Theme. Completely overlooked type-II jam. Listen to it right away if you haven't already!
Are the results of this one really that surprising? A shock to possibly no one, the fans love The Frendly Gathering and overwhelmingy selected it as their favorite festival appearance of 2015. Frendly is an obvious choice for several reasons:
Sit-ins are oddly polarizing in the Twiddle community. Some people love Twiddle and only want to see Twiddle in their purest form. It allows the band to fully flex themselves since they're comfortable playing with each other and know their songs better than any one so there are no limitations when exploring a jam. Some people love seeing other artists sit-in with Twiddle because they feel it adds new elements to the music and can sometimes push the band in directions they may not have gone in. As someone who tracks stats, I love sit-ins. They're interesting and I think always add a fun element to a song. They don't happen insanely often so I don't see the harm but to each their own. 2015 saw the best sit-ins in Twiddle history to date. The fan favorite sit-in was also my personal favorite sit-in so far, John Popper on the harmonica during "Lost in the Cold" at Peach Music Festival (2015-08-14). Blues Traveler was huge in the 90s and anyone who dug music at the time owned a copy of their album Four. It had their one-hit-wonder single "Runaround" as well as the often Gubbuilidis covered "The Mountains Win Again". In close second was a "Latin Tang" jam that occured only two shows earlier, 2015-08-07. The tang jam at that show featured Russ Lawton (Soule Monde) on drums, Ray Paczkowski (Soule Monde) on keys and Dave "The Truth" Grippo on saxophone. During the jam Mihali broke a high e-string. If you were able to spend a Burlington summer day listening to this show, I don't doubt it was the best. Notable at third was Todd Stoops' (RAQ) sit-in during "Lost In The Cold" at the band's first ever Red Rocks appearance opening for the String Cheese Incident (link). For such a young song, "Lost In The Cold" has seen some serious musical treatment.
So this might have been a stupid question to ask. There was a pretty clear winner; The New Year's Eve show got the majority of votes but could that be the bias that comes with a show still being fresh in everyone's minds? Shows are usually rated their best right after they happen so its possible this wasn't as fairly assessed as the other categores. The second place show was the Burlington Waterfront show (link) which featured fantastic jamming and epic sit-ins. It is worth noting that 4 out of the top 6 (including #1) most-voted shows were on the PLUMP: December To Remember tour which was universally praised among fans. The band has done nothing but progress not just 2015 but the past 3-4 years so it would make sense for them to finish strong.
This I'd imagine was the hardest category for people to choose. Several people couldn't. The voting was extremely close for the top four and then a three-way-tie for the next three. Ultimately the Brooklyn Bowl "Apples" (link) beat out the College Street "Polluted Beauty" (link) by only one vote...which only beat out the 20 minute epic "White Light" from Telluride (link) by two votes! The next were a three-way-tie and are jams that I really think got under-appreciated in this polling. The "Zazu's Flight" from the Broadberry show (link) - the INSANE 30+ minute "Gatsby The Great" from Eugene (link) and the rarely type-II'd "Second Wind" from Boulder (link) all are required listening. The Zazu's especially. It was that jam that really made me believe in this year. Having this many epic jams to choose from is a problem we can only hope to have for all years to come.
The last question on the survey was regarding tour MVP - this was another overwhelming win. The MVP of 2015 was...::drum roll::....Zdenek! Zdenek won with over 1/3 of the votes so it's clear, the fans have spoken and they can't get enough Gubb Dumps! 2015 was such an amazing year of Twiddle music. We've seen improvisation like never before and the shows by these analytics only got better as the year progressed. 2016 has a pretty back act to follow but the band seems as focused as ever and hopefully, this is just the beginning. Thanks for reading and thanks for taking the survey (if you did!).
~the Space Fish~