Monday, April 05, 2010
Spoon @ Sound Academy: photo by Michael Ligon
Let's face it. I'm getting lazy with reviewing shows but so far, for the sake of this blog, I still feel compelled to write something. I apologize for my tardiness - it's been a week since Spoon's show at Sound Academy last Monday. Even if Sound Academy is far from my favourite venue (and well actually is my least favourite venue in Toronto) my general disdain for it has diminished slightly now that I'm attune to the bus route that travels in the general vicinity of the venue and the venue itself isn't as terrible as I'd remembered as long as you show up at a reasonable time to snag a decent spot to watch the show. With regards to the show itself, Spoon really delivered.
I'd arrived at the venur with Austin's The Strange Boys well into their brief set of garage-y, sometimes twang-inflected guitar rock. Formed in 2001 and releasing their debut EP, States Newest Noise Makers, in 2004 this was the first time I'd even heard their name, so I'd have guessed that they've dwelled in relative obscurity. There's an authenticity in their garage-y tunes although not particularly distinctive, and not particularly fashionable if you pay attention to such things. I do particularly recall a twang-inflected, slacker tune that hit a good stride although otherwise there's a dozen other similar bannds albums I'd no sooner reach for.
I'd only caught part of The Strange Boys' set due to trying to convince security to let me in with my SLR [as I didn't have a media pass, I promised to keep my camera in my bag but they wouldn't budge so I gave in and they held it for me in the security office. Hence, the iPhone photo above(using the Hipstamatic app) as well as including the photos through the link below].
While Spoon were the main reasons I'd bought a ticket for the show, it was second openers Atlanta's Deerhunter who were arguably the best band of the night. The youthful outfit led by the lanky Bradford Cox wearing dark sunglasses and what looked like a fishtail-style military green parker were a sonically exciting bunch at various times sounding like some of my all-time favourite bands. At various times they had the noisy guitar dissonance of Sonic Youth, the skewed-pop sensibilities of the Pixies and Jesus and Mary Chain, and the shoegaze-y guitar tendencies of My Bloody Valentine. But as much as they'd reminded me of these other bands, their sound was still fresh. Between songs, Mr. Cox spouted what seemed like stream-of-consciousness existential babble, all very entertaing in a sense, but it made me wonder if he was on something. With Spoon's Britt Daniel joining in on one song on guitar for an extended jam as well as a member of The Black Lips also jumping on stage at one point, it was an entertaining set.
There's no doubt Spoon's star has been steadily rising over the past 4-5 years. Their last show in Toronto was in October 2007 at Kool Haus (a show which had originally been scheduled for the Phoenix), and their show previous to that was in 2005 at the Phoenix. But such a historical progression still didn't make a show at Sound Academy a reasonable venue. Are Spoon really THAT big in Toronto? Apparently so.
The dapper-looking quartet in their monochratic shirt and trousers performed a delectable set of tunes from their new album "Transference", their previous efforts "Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga" and "Gimme Fiction" and peppering the setlist with oldies from "Girls Can Tell" ('Me and the Bean'), and "Kill The Moonlight"('Small Stakes'). What the band lacked in stage presence (though they were far from wet blankets on stage, with Britt Daniel oozing more slinky sexuality that I recalled on previous visits to Toronto), the band compensated musically, with the group's sublime mix of guitar, bass, keys and drums, led by Daniel's attractive semi-raspy vocals tying things together perfectly. What makes Spoon so generally distinctive is their devotion to classic songwriting, songs that have an air of influence of bands before them, but yet so timeless sounding when I come to think of it. When so many bands these days sound like a genre, indie or what have you, Spoon are truly in that minority of bands that really make good melodic, rock n' roll music.
Random points: Deerhunter's Cox guested on one song. Britt made a humourous comment about a moustached-guest musician being on "lead moustache". There was good audience handclap participation on "I Summon You". The keyboard staccato of "Small Stakes" absolutely sizzled. And while real horns would have been nice on encore closer "The Underdog", still the song's celebratory mood was such a perfect way to end the show.
Eye Weekly has a review plus also the setlist from the show.
Photos: Spoon @ Sound Academy, Toronto (March 29, 2010)
MySpace: The Strange Boys