Spoon House of Blues April 13, 2012
Spoon has two types of songs: Songs that cut and songs that groove. But they all sting.
The songs that cut are choppy and a little clenched, like "Small Stakes" or "Got Nuffin'." The songs that groove are about as fluid as I think it is for music to possibly be; whenever they play "I Turn My Camera On" or "Don't You Evah," I can't help picturing someone doing the robot on one of those moving walkways at an airport somewhere.
The important thing is that Spoon does not do anything suddenly, onstage or off. Almost 20 years since Britt Daniel and Jim Eno formed Spoon in Austin in 1993, they played to a full house at House of Blues Friday night -- their first show in the area since 2009, and first here since their most recent LP, Transference, came out in January 2010.
Spoon etches tiny details into their songs like glass, like Eric Harvey's stately piano chords that opened the evening and "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" or Eno kissing closer "Black Like Me" with a single Maraca. Eno's drums are a model of Krautrock efficiency and economy -- the band took its name from a Can song -- and even rockers "Jonathan Fisk" and "Got Nuffin'" are defined as much by what he leaves out as what he puts in.
Rob Pope's disco bass filled in the cracks; on "Camera" he might as well have lit up the floor tiles like in Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean" video. (That would be a cool effect; someone at HOB should look into it.)
But if the other three Spoons never do get enough credit, it's definitely Britt Daniel who is steering the ship. He's about as flashy as his drummer; about the most worked up he got Friday was the extended feedback duet with his amplifier during the last song of the encore, "My Mathematical Mind."
Across Spoon's discography -- 2001's Girls Can Tell was the first album to appear in Friday's set, which was spread pretty evenly among 2002's Kill the Moonlight, 2005's Gimme Fiction and 2007's Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga -- there is such a rich cast of characters that it can be difficult to distinguish which ones are made up, which are one of his many alter egos, and when Daniel is singing as himself. Exactly what are "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine," anyway?
But not always. Most of the time Daniel wears that fitted shirt as an effective suit of armor, but in his loneliest, most haunting songs ("I Summon You," "Everything Hits at Once"), he's missing an important piece right where his heart is.
Personal Bias: Spoon and I go way back. Many, many moons ago, Britt Daniel and I were fellow DJs at UT-Austin student station KVRX.
The Crowd: Ladies still love Britt Daniel. (Sorry, old joke.)
Overheard In the Crowd: "Oh, I know this song!"
Random Notebook Dump: I wonder if Britt Daniel listens to a lot of Joe Jackson, or did at one time.
The Beast and Dragon, Adored Me and the Bean Don't Make Me a Target Don't You Evah The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine Small Stakes The Delicate Place I Turn My Camera On Trouble Comes Running Everything Hits at Once Stay Don't Go Got Nuffin' I Summon You You Got Yr Cherry Bomb The Underdog Jonathan Fisk Black Like Me
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Written In Reverse Someone Something The Way We Get By My Mathematical Mind