Spoon, Deerhunter, Micachu and the Shapes
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Better than: Seeing a show that you haven't been anticipating for months.
When I first heard Spoon
, I wondered why people thought the band was special. Its members are four white dudes from Austin who play a familiar alt-rock amalgamation. Their songs either sit on one chord or dance predictably between two or three. The drums pulse primitively with little variation. Even their piano parts basically involve banging on a couple of keys like any novice could do. It all seemed kinda boring.
Sometime around the fourth or fifth listen, I realized what makes Soon interesting: Its rudimentary parts mysteriously create music that's catchy, but startlingly detailed and complex. The restraint in its spare instrumentation, and the atomic precision the band relies on, produce a thrill that less skilled bands go wild to achieve. Without gimmicks, flash, or a pile of distortion pedals, Spoon creates punchy, taut dynamics that few can equal.
At Fox Theater last night, Spoon poured out the feeling and power that has captured the ears of fans for the last 16 years. At the bittersweet conclusion of the group's tour with Deerhunter
and Micachu and the Shapes
, the band dealt out 24 songs with little fanfare or chatting in between, leaving everyone exhausted but satisfied.
The group began last night with a familiar trick from its records: a quiet, mood-setting opener (the distant, brooding "Before Destruction," the first track from new album Transference). Singer-guitarist Britt Daniel took the stage in a tiny black leather jacket and black pants. He strummed the initial chords almost lazily, and it seemed unclear whether he really meant to begin. But Daniels and Co. are masters of dynamics. They play quietly and repetitively so that any addition or tempo change seems a revelation. The tension moved up one notch with the insistent drums and gritty chords of "I Saw The Light." But things really hit at the third tune, the jangly, piano-driven "The Way We Get By," a classic off the band's fourth album that doesn't arrive at full potency until it's halfway over.