There comes a time in every band’s career where a decision is made about what will come next. Sometimes it’s a complete change of style, A La Radiohead. Sometimes it’s a change of scale, maybe adding a full blown orchestra, or a brass section. Maybe it’s scaling down and getting more intimate. A very rare thing for a band to do is however, to become more introverted and extroverted at the same time; to have a very clear idea of what the core of the band’s soul comes from, and still be open to add and explore new sounds. And that is the exact reason why Spoon comes forward as one of the most unique and accomplished rock bands of our time.
The Austin natives followed their performance at The Wiltern by playing the the inaugural show of the Teragram Ballroom, located just between Koreatown and Downtown Los Angeles, to an intimate and energetic crowd. The opening band, Sweet Spirit (also of Austin,TX) provided a jump start to the evening, with a thick and energetic ensemble performance, climaxing with Britt Daniel of Spoon joining them for their final song of the evening. Although they encountered sound issues at several moments, Sweet Spirit displayed the energy and spirit of a promising ensemble, one that surely convinced the audience to keep an eye out for their future works.
After a short set change allowing everyone to visit the water closet and get a refill on their IPA’s; the lights went dark, and Spoon took the stage. The electrifying stage presence of the band started to ooze out with the first few notes of Rainy Taxi from last year’s phenomenal They Want My Soul. As the band powered their way through newer cuts and classics, some things became very clear. To begin with, getting to see a band of such a caliber in such an intimate setting was a very rare opportunity. Making his way through his third decade on the stage, Britt Daniel’s performance as a frontman is more effortless and commanding than ever. He not only gracefully plays off his band members whilst being in charge of the momentum, he also delivers the lyrics with the raw energy and skill of someone who can only be described as a true rock star. Jim Eno’s drumming is more transgressive than ever, rendering both older Spoon cuts into an unpredictable sonic area, and adding a much appreciated rhythmic backbone to their newer works. It is fascinating to watch a band with so many classic cuts that remain so gracefully timeless.
The deeper the band moved into their setlist, playing tracks like The Ghost Of You Lingers, Let Me Be Mine and The Beast + Dragon, Adored; making their way to a true modern masterpiece, They Want My Soul’s Inside Out. The track’s famous synth line resonated even better live, with the newest band member Alex Fischel’s keyboards swirling into a semi-loop as Jim Eno’s bass drums resonated in the ears of the audience. It is very interesting to watch the level of integration Fischel has in the core line-up of Spoon. Eno and Daniel appear to be constantly open to taking their sound to new places, exemplified by the keyboard dominant sounds from their newer works. Because of how self-aware Spoon is of their work as a band that the raw core of their work is always open to change, yet it somehow always stays familiar; which seems to be the main reason they are able to stay so relevant in their third decade as a band. An interesting metaphor for this is the one second gap they take towards the end when they play Inside Out. Always in motion, always able to stop and think; always able to stop and feel.
The rest of their set included classics like I Summon You, wherein Britt Daniel breaks out his inner Dylan and shines as the classic leading man singing a guitar driven ballad. The band wrapped up their set with tracks like The Underdog and Rent I Pay, and the crowd wandered into the night; taking pictures of the “SPOON TONITE – SOLD OUT” sign outside the Teragram Ballroom and share with their social media-verse the gospel of a group of guys from Austin we know and love as Spoon. Their performance was as much planned as it was energetic, as much a ritual as it was a bash. Spoon yet again convinced me that they are one of the finest rock bands of the planet right now, and I can’t wait to hear what’s next.
Photos & Words: Hakancan Altiner