@ZackTeibloom Picture yourself in the Waterloo parking lot. The nicest January day you’ve ever felt. A shield-your-eyes-it’s-so-sunny afternoon. Picture the biggest band to come out of Austin in the last decade playing for free. It feels like I’m quoting a Spoon song, doesn’t it? Actually, I’m kind of quoting two. It’s the kind of thing you pick up on when you see a band you really like, but don’t love for the fifth time. You notice how Britt does the same “I’m playing the guitar like a machine gun” squatting pose, plays with his frizzy/matted down hair (depending on how he pushed it off his face last.) You notice how much of a rockstar he looks like with the leather jacket and sunglasses. How Australian he looks with his sunglasses off. You notice they start two songs the exact same way. Picture it.
“The Mystery Zone” is just a replica of the best song on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, “The Underdog.”
First line of “The Mystery Zone:” “Picture yourself set up for good in a whole other life…”
First line of “The Underdog:” “Picture yourself in the living room, your pipe and slippers set out for you…”
Spoon has a habit of not playing their best setlist. We got to hear “The Mystery Zone,” but no “The Underdog.” We heard “Is Love Forever,” but no “Way We Get By” or “I Turn My Camera On.” It’s more than them not playing older singles. I’m totally fine with that, but their choices on deep cuts from albums are never my favorites. No “Who Makes Your Money,” no “The Underdog,” no “My Litte Jaapanese Cigarette Case.” I guess beggars can’t be choosers. You’d think new track “Goodnight Laura” would be an ideal set closer, but no. There never seems to be a rhyme or reason to a Spoon set*.
They were playing a free show promoting a new album, so they played most of it. And it sounded pretty spectacular. There’s room to jam on these songs. Britt takes extended solo’s at the end of songs and Spoon delivered the show they always do. Britt Daniels is the “rhythm and soul” of the band. Nothing against his bandmates, it’s that just all eyes are on him, and there’s good reason.
Britt has a bag of tricks he goes through and utilizes them skillfully every time. He slices his guitar up like he’s going to serve the strings julianne style later. He leans heavily on the echo pedal that sounds like this device I had when I was a kid. He’s scant on banter, except for telling us to shop at local record stores and telling “Hot Pockets” to turn up his sound.
I got to interview Britt in person in college and asked him what he thought about the “indie-rock” label and he dismissed it. He said he didn’t really know what it meant. He preferred to just think of them as a rock ‘n’ roll band. I loved that at the time. There’s been an attack on the phrase and its meaning if an “indie rock” band like Vampire Weekend can put out a #1 selling album. Maybe it’s the fact that a Spoon show is so subdued. Yes, there were several hundred people psyched to see them and we applauded and whistled and nodded our heads, but maybe the “rock” bands designation is reserved for someone who stirs more up in a crowd. I don’t know exactly what it is that generates that response, but I don’t think Spoon has ever quite gotten there.
They’re a wildly successful “indie-rock” band who’s always worth seeing. Even when they’re not free. It made me picture sweaty afternoon sets at SXSW. And that’s always a good thing.
Video of “Nobody Gets Me But You” courtesy of @Waterloorecords
Photos courtesy of Mary Rehak of Shutter-Noise
*Lollapalooza 2007 I had a “sandwich” under my poncho as my friend and I watched Spoon and said we wouldn’t eat it until they played “Cherry Bomb.” They never played it and it was their current single. I guess the lesson is, Spoon plays what they want and don’t wait on sandwiches.