The Spring Standards | Photo by Joe Del Tufo |

The Spring Standards‘ annual Boxing Day show at Arden Gild Hall is in its 7th year, 8th if you count the show when the band were called Old Springs Pike, and had HBO star John Gallagher on guitar. They’ve played every year since (except for the 2010 show that was postponed due to blizzard), honing their unique brand of euphoric indie pop into something that is unmistakably their own. In 2012 the band played back-to-back shows which were filmed for an HD release, and this show marked the release party for Live In Delaware.

After an excellent opening set by Tim Meren, two songs from the Live At Delaware release were projected onto a screen beside the stage. The band then arrived with a colorful, upbeat version of “The Hush,” from their Would Things Be Different debut. From there the concert was uniquely  divided into four parts, with the opening three-piece Standards show kicking off with “Only Skin,” “Chicago,” “Wildfire Forest,” “Savannah,” “Coal,” “Nightmare” and “Unmarked.”  It was a nice, balanced start, showing off their ballads as much as the toe-tappers. The stage banter was, as always, as much a part of the show as the music. And “Only Skin” is still one of the most luminous live songs I’ve experienced.

The band then stepped off the stage and into the crowd for a mini acoustic set featuring “Pin Cushion,” “Skyline,” “Reply,” “Goodnight Midnight” and “Crushing Pennies.” Lit simply by house lights, this extended version of a Spring Standards staple was a highlight.  “Skyline” and “Crushing Pennies” sound especially sublime in this intimate, stripped down format.

As the band returned to the stage they were joined by Hoots and Hellmouth drummer Mike Reilly, who anchored the final section with “Rusty Wheels,” “Here We Go,” “Sharks” and “Watch the Moon Disappear.” Reilly killed it, and took the entire feel of the show up a few notches. As the ashes of “Watch the Moon Disappear” finally settled, the band returned for a two song encore. The ballad “So Simple So True” was a nice foil for a furious cover of “Little Bug,” complete with 15-20 members of the crowd spontaneously joining the band on stage.

I say this every time I see them, but they get better and better each time. Boxing Day 2014 was no exception.