Monday, October 22, 2007

The canon (aka Spoon, Philly, 2007)

Used to be, if I mentioned a crush on a boy, my friends would ask if he liked Belle and Sebastian, Sleater-Kinney and Elliott Smith, because I spent the majority of my free time listening to and copying these artists. I didn't love Spoon as much, yet. Lately, I don't have crushes. But if either condition were reversed, Spoon would have belonged to the canon. However, the canon is no longer arbiter of attraction--which is perhaps very fortunate since I go alone to most shows, this one included.

The show in Philly was excellent. The Electric Factory is a medium-sized venue--most closely approximating the Fillmore in SF. Which is where I saw Spoon two years ago, with the Clientele (and Dave and Dan). That time, some tool standing behind me was woo-wooing at the top of his lungs every minute for at least half the set. The Electric Factory crowd was less disrespectful, but there was way too much talking during the ballads. Not as bad as this one time I saw Elliott Smith at the Showbox, but still, enough for me to want to toss well-timed ice cubes in the direction of the worst (read: most drunk) offenders.

For whatever reason, I j'adore (to borrow from Jonathan Adler) this band. I appreciate their willingness to experiment. I feel like they've taken all the tropes of rock and chopped them up and reassembled into an abstract musical mosaic. Their songs don't have standard/traditional beginnings and ends, interspersed with choruses and reprises and codas. They have structure, but either the chords, the melodies, or the instruments are not following your typical song program. Some bands do a really good job of this with time signature shifts (e.g. Ted Leo and the Pharmacists), but Spoon's approach seems to be more chunky and angular. Which isn't to discount the more songish songs--they make my day.

The opening band, the Ponys, was unable to make the show due to technical or automobile or traffic problems, so the show started late and was simply a 2-hour set from Spoon. As much as I whine about having to see them in larger venues, it seems like they really enjoy playing to larger crowds. The kids are way into Spoon, too, far different from their lackluster response last summer at the Greek, when Spoon opened for Death Cab for Cutie. They played nearly everything off Ga x 5 and Gimme Fiction, and several tunes from Kill the Moonlight and Girls Can Tell. Most rewardingly, they played The Fitted Shirt. Everyone at the show knew all the words to nearly everything. And I heard You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb at Old Navy today. I guess they are pretty bigtime now. As are all the bands I've been listening to over the last 10 years.

Time to add to the canon!

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