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« Review: Miles Kurosky @ Schubas, 4/1 Review: High On Fire @ Lincoln Hall, 4/2 »

Review Fri Apr 02 2010

Review: Spoon @ Aragon, 4/1

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Spoon's Britt Daniel likes the lights turned down low (Photo by Katie Hovland)

Anyone who's ever been to the Aragon Ballroom (and stayed sober long enough to actually hear a band) knows that the sound in the room leaves a lot to be desired. Britt Daniel shared the same sentiment as Spoon took the stage last night. "Do people always complain about the sound onstage or is it just me? In the 22 years I've been doing this I've never heard sound this bad. I really wanted it to be good." As much as he complained, you would ever know he was having issues hearing; the show was prototypical Spoon: tight perfection.

The evening progressively brightened up as they mixed in more of their well-known pop hits, but started off rather minimal with a single strand of white lights strewn across the stage and Britt solo under a spotlight for the song "Me and the Bean." The setlist early on was heavy on tracks from their newest album, Transference — which was somewhat of a surprise album, in more ways than one. It would be hard to say the album was anticipated because it wasn't wide knowledge that the group was even working on a new project, and the minimalism and more ominous tone is a departure from the radio-friendly pop tunes of their previous album, Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

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Spoon bassist Rob Pope (photo by Katie Hovland)

Some say this is exactly why you shouldn't let the band produce their own album, but I disagree. I see Transference as a treat to themselves, a harkening to their roots, recording the kind of music they want to play, and if some fans think it's "boring," they can relax, because I'm sure their next effort will be a hook-laden follow-up to Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. After something like 22 years (16 as a band) Spoon has been around long enough and been successful enough to afford the luxury to record an album that might not be as widely accepted, but will still be enjoyed by fans who give it more than the initial listen.

Transference may have taken some time to warm up to, but the intricacies are worth it. The off-beat singing on "Is Love Forever" at first listen might sound out of sync, but one you realize it's intentional, it's a delight to get in the groove and bounce your head to. While Transference might not be dripping with hooks, it has its shining moments that draw you in long enough to get turned on, and while it may feel like a tease, sometimes that feeling of wanting more is exactly what makes you appreciate the build up, and is just as satisfying. The perfect example is "Who Makes Your Money" which exemplifies the driving tone of the album, but has a slight pick up at the end before abruptly cutting off.

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Spoon drummer Jim Eno (photo by Katie Hovland)

The only other complaint I have about last night's show (besides the super early 6pm start time and afore mentioned sound issues) isn't even necessarily a complaint as much as a request — to loosen up on stage. Musician Carrie Brownstein (now "All Songs Considered" contributor) noted after their SXSW appearance that they never stray much from the recorded version of a song, and I think that's where they lose some fire. Sure Britt will get down with his guitar, and Jim Eno hits the drums a little harder and louder at key moments, but they never completely draw you in.

But maybe that's why Spoon has the solid reputation that they do. They're professional, consistent, reliable. And you know what? We'll take it.

 
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Zigzag / April 2, 2010 6:34 PM

The sound and venue ruined the experience for me. I have always appreciated the tight, perfect sound at a Spoon show. I don't fault the band, but I wish whoever books their shows would have researched the venue and decided to play elsewhere... a theater, or a club. 2 nights at Metro would have been more of a crowd pleaser for serious fans.
No matter the band, I am done with Aragon Ballroom.

James / April 3, 2010 1:44 AM

If only it were so easy, Zigzag, for a band to have a person in every city deem a venue worthy. Every band knows the Aragon is a barn. But it holds a lot of bodies. Two nights of full turnover at Metro is still less than half of one night at the Aragon. It's just business.

WHS / April 3, 2010 6:01 PM

I love Spoon, but the decision to put them in the Aragon made it really easy for me to skip the show to see Miles Kurosky (Beulah) at Schubas instead. Sounds like it turned out to be a good decision, because he was excellent.

Ian / April 10, 2010 11:57 PM

The sound was bad. The crowd was worse.

Little to no grooving and crossed arms from many with one of the tightest bands around onstage, as though people were putting up with Spoon while waiting for the headliner to take the stage.

Andy Keil / April 13, 2010 1:49 AM

Katie, the top photo is great.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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