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We stopped off Red River at Barbarella to see Mexico City's Hong Kong Blood Opera, decent Blood Brothers-style spazz-punk, buoyed by electrics and plenty of howling by the band's co-singers. If anything, they engaged the crowd and we hung around for a few cuts. Spoon and the brand-new Broken Bells closed things out at NPR's showcase at Stubb's, with Broken Bells bringing the sulk rather than anything interesting. The band, led by the Shins' James Mercer and producer Dangermouse, performed tracks from this year's self-titled debut. It wasn't anything groundbreaking or noteworthy more like a quasi-juiced Shins record with some extra swagger. We still love Danger Mouse, but really didn't care for Mercer's yelp or his phony tough persona this time around.
Spoon, on the other hand, was in the pocket from note one, even if they came on a good 20 minutes late at 12:30 a.m. Britt Daniel was decked out in a leather jacket and the band played in shadows onstage aided by white panels. They ran out new stuff from January's Transference, opening with "Written In Reverse." The band seems to be revving up the piano angle and we aren't the only ones who are starting to hear a Joe Jackson ghost lurking throughout.