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Spoon Fed

Posted by John / November 3, 2005

gimme-fiction.gifBefore last night's show at Club Soda, I had last seen Spoon in March at SXSW, a few weeks before their latest record, Gimme Fiction, came out. At the time, I had a few misgivings about that album; I feared that the very soul of Spoon -- which, to me, is the hooky synth-pop at the core of most of the songs on Kill The Moonlight, for example -- had been shelved in favour of a more contemporary indie rock. The indie rock observation remains true, but yesterday's show, which was significantly better than the already-pretty-convincing SXSW gig, pretty much demonstrated that the band's soul is a transient thing.

Which is to say they're capable of doing something memorable with both synth-pop and indie rock. They made a case for their skill at the latter from the beginning, playing the two most obvious singles from Gimme Fiction -- The Beast And Dragon, Adored and Sister Jack -- something like first and third, respectively. As those songs (and most others, actually) wounds up, singer/guitarist Britt Daniel, looking coolly nerdy in a black suit and burgundy shirt, unleashed waves of feedback. I noticed then that he has unusually long fingers.

It was at about this time that the most annoying people in the world chose to stand right behind me. There were two or three of them, and I really began to notice them during I Summon You, when one guy yelled, directly into my ear, "This is such a great song!" "Oh yeah!" yelled the other guy in agreement. Then they had a yelled conversation for the duration of the song, pausing to listen to it for about 10 seconds, after which the first guy noted, "This is such a great song!" A few songs later his cell phone rang. It was loud enough that you couldn't hear it actually ring, but you could then hear him yell: "Hello?! ... Oh, hey man! ... No, I'm at Spoon! ... What?! ... Spoon!? ... What? ... SPOON! ... Yeah, it's fuckin' awesome! ... Here, can you hear it?! ... Yeah, it's awesome! ... Hey, where are you?! ... Cool, man! ... What?! ... Cool! ... [short conversation about something follows]"

Because I was maybe 15 feet from the stage, I don't think it's unfair to expect that the people around me would be equally interested in hearing the band, and aware that people probably don't want to hear them talking, or announcing, repeatedly, that various songs are either "the best song" or "such a great song." Or, for that matter, smoking a joint and blowing the smoke directly forward into the backs of people's heads because the vigilant security guards would bust you if you blew it into the air as etiquette demands. Or singing along in a terrible voice, as though trying to actually drown out the singer of the band. Which at least meant they weren't talking.

Forgive me for that. Anyway, so here's my observation about Spoon: They're hardly the most inventive band, but they're really good at doing the most with the least, if that makes sense. Most of their songs are built around some frustratingly simple riff or progression of a small handful of notes -- My Mathematical Mind and I Turn My Camera On are pretty much two chord songs (the verses at least), and The Beast And Dragon, Adored is basically built around a scale -- and I say frustrating because those songs mushroom into something complex, or maybe just something meaningful, regardless of their simplicity. Spoon are (Spoon is?) masters (a master?) of economy. If other musicians feel compelled to pursue sonic inventiveness by straying far from the norm, Spoon stick around the norm and discover crucial bits of pop that somehow go unnoticed. Gimme Fiction extends that approach slightly out of pop and slightly into rock.

Last night, after the third and final song of the encore (I can't remember what it was -- anyone?), Daniels followed his "thank you" with something that I'm going to describe as a howl of delight, but that might have been a yelp of joy or a bellow of giddiness. It was odd and great. Some kind of line had been crossed in the encore, where my feet stopped hurting and I completely tuned out the idiots behind me (actually, I think I moved) and Daniels ripped out layers of dissonance with his unusually long fingers and turned whatever relatively simple song it was into something that filled the whole room.




Cecil / November 3, 2005 at 10:32 am
I'm pretty sure the last song was My Mathematical Mind.

I was lucky enough to not have any annoying cunt around me to spoil the evening. Gawd-DAMN, that show was good. For the first 5 or 6 songs, I kept thinking that Spoon are pretty much a minimal classic rock band. I mean, I heard hints of Supertramp, Tom Petty and even Hall and Oates here and there. But then the weirder songs crept in halfway through the set and I was reminded what a truly unique creature Spoon really is.

And now my girlfriend's in love with Britt Daniel. It's OK. I'd forgive him anything.

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