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Saturday, August 8, 2020

Creed Comes to Bellingham

By Ian Haupt

A purple beam of light lit up the stage and the room filled with ecstatic cheers as the man of the evening walked out, smiling and waving at his audience.

Pausing at the microphone, he waited for the crowd to settle before he asked, “[Is] somebody making soup?”

Creed Bratton, most notably known for playing the oddball scam-artist of the same name on NBC’s hit show “The Office,” played a sold-out show at the Wild Buffalo on Tuesday, Oct. 16.

Bratton played songs from his latest solo album “While the Young Punks Dance,” and recounted his journey as a singer/songwriter in 1965 when he played with the band The Grass Roots as the lead guitarist. Today, at age 75, Bratton’s solo career has lead him across the country on tour, according to his website.

After the final chord rang out on his first song, Bratton paused to ask the crowd how they were feeling.

“Most rock stars and entertainers aren’t sincere when they say that,” Bratton said. “I am. Creed cares.”

In between songs, Bratton told stories from his days as a drug-enthused traveling musician in the 1960s. He reminisced about his days in The Grass Roots by playing one of the band’s songs, “Let’s Live for Today.”

He said when it was released, the track climbed to number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart and sold over two million copies. The band was even awarded a gold disc in honor of the accomplishment. He said the song is about living in the moment and reminds him of when he was as a young traveling musician.

“Creed, you’re a national treasure!” Bratton said his friend told him. “No. A trinket perhaps,” he said he responded.

According to his website, after his time with The Grass Roots, he continued pursuing music and acting in Los Angeles.

In a radio interview, Bratton said when he found out about “The Office,” he asked the director of the first episodes, Ken Kwapis, to be on the show. Bratton said Kwapis told him all of the lead roles were cast but they could put him in the background.

Instead of remaining a part of the scenery, Bratton ran with the role and decided to create a fictional version of himself. He said the Creed Bratton on the show is the washed up rock star he would have been if he had continued doing psychedelic drugs like in his days with The Grass Roots. His original character was supposed to be psychic, on top of the many other bizarre traits.

Bratton’s set included a mix of upbeat grooves and heartfelt ballads with silly gags and all “The Office” references the crowd could hope for.

Senior Morgan Spargo said she found out about the show the day of and posted on social media in search of a ticket because it was already sold out. She said she’s obsessed with “The Office” and plans on writing the actor Rainn Wilson, who plays high-strung coworker Dwight Schrute on the show, an invitation to her wedding.

“I’m a total Office nerd,” Spargo said before the show. “He’s going to be awesome, I know it. Even if he’s not, I don’t care because it’s Creed.”

Craig Jewell, co-owner and talent buyer at the Wild Buffalo, said the show was Bratton’s return to Bellingham. Jewell said the last time Bratton came was in 2015, when he also played a sold-out show.

“[The 2015 show] just barely sold out the day of,” Jewell said. “This one has been sold out in advance and it’s four times the amount of people.”

Jewell said the Wild Buffalo has been trying to figure out why this show sold out exponentially quicker than the one three years prior. He speculated part of the reason could be the amount of time that’s passed since the hit show’s ending. He said people miss the lovable characters, like Bratton’s.

“With ‘The Office’ kind of re-emerging on Netflix, I think it just kind of re-sparked [peoples’ interest],” he said.

An audience member holds a piece of paper while Creed stands at a microphone, pointing and holding a guitar under purple stage lights.
Creed chooses someone from the audience to hold his new song’s lyrics up. // Photo by Kenzie Mahoskey

In the middle of his set, Bratton pulled up an audience member to hold a scroll of lyrics for him, saying that the next song was a new one. After he played the first few notes, the audience realized it was actually the cast tribute song from “The Office,” with the well-known theme song as the chorus. The crowd sang along, overpowering Bratton’s voice and guitar.

As the tune faded out, Bratton took the scroll from his helper and signed it. With an envious cheer from the crowd, he handed it back to the audience member and helped them off the stage.

Bratton ended his set with the song he played in the show’s finale called “All the Faces.” He said Greg Daniels, the show’s writer who took over for British comedy writer Ricky Gervais and then left to write for NBC’s other hit comedy “Parks and Recreation,” returned to write the final show.

Bratton said Daniels asked each actor how they thought their character should say goodbye and he said he’d like to play a song he wrote. When Bratton read the script, he said he was happy to learn he would get to play his song.

As the ballad came to an end, the audience showed their appreciation with a booming round of applause and enthusiastic cheers. Bratton thanked them and parted with a smile and wave.

“Why would I do this?” Bratton said. “[Because] Creed cares.”

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