Archive for the ‘Spoon’ Category

[POSTPONED: April 15, 2022] Spoon / Margaret Glaspy [moved to May 4, 2022]


This was supposed to be a chaotic week of concerts, but between our vacation and this show being cancelled, it wound up being no concerts at all.

Spoon has postponed the upcoming dates of their previously announced tour due to a positive COVID case in their camp. The Philadelphia, New York City and Detroit shows on April 15, April 16 and April 18 have been postponed to next month.

That was fine for me and the new date works very well.


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[DID NOT ATTEND: October 24, 2021] Spoon/Nicole Atkins

I’ve seen Spoon twice and they put on a great show.

Nicole Atkins is a singer who has put out several singles that sound very different from each other and which I like.

But this show was the same night as The Front Bottoms and there was no way I was missing THAT show.

I’ve heard this show was very good.

But my show was amazing!

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[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Spoon

I couldn’t believe that Spoon was the second band on this bill.  I had seen Spoon last year at the TLA in Philly and they played a huge set and the fanbase was rabid.  It was weird to see them in the setting sun (Britt Daniel came out and acted like he was a vampire when he saw the bright sun).

The crowd had filled in somewhat between Sunflower Bean and Spoon, but they were still going on at 6:45–not an ideal concert time, to be sure.

Regardless, the folks who were there were there for Spoon and they reacted appropriately. There was lots of dancing and singing along.  And Daniel either saw people he recognized or just acted like it because he was engaging and a lot of fun.

A few days before this tour started, it was announced that bassist Rob Pope was leaving the band [he’s going to spend more time with his other band The Get Up Kids].  It seemed liked terrible timing, but I gather they had his replacement Ben Trokan all lined up because they didn’t miss any dates on the tour and Trokan was great when I saw them.

Britt Daniel was dressed in a shirt and jacket (again, it was very hot, what’s up with these singers?).  He immediately started interacting with the crowd, climbing on his monitors and putting a foot on the fence that kept the crowd from the stage.  Like last time, they opened with “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” and everyone sounded fantastic.  Daniel’s voice was in great form and his guitar playing (when he played) was right on.

Since the previous show was nearly two hours and this one was barely 40 minutes, I assumed we’d get the truncated version of the previous set list.  But it seems that Spoon likes to mix things up a bit from night to night.  So up next was “The Way We Get By” which I didn’t hear last time (nice!).  They followed that with another favorite of mine, “My Mathematical Mind.”

They played the new song, “No Bullets Spent” which fit in perfectly with the rest of their set.  Then everyone went crazy when they started the rumbling guitar for “The Underdog”.  There were no horns like on the record, but the keys and piano were a great substitute.

I love watching drummer Jim Eno.  He seems to be having so much fun out there.  He definitely feeds off of Daniel’s energy–there were a couple of times when Daniel slashed his guitar through the air and Eno accented that with some drum hits.  During “The Underdog” he was playing the maracas and when he was done he hurled it across the stage to the roadie–who caught it!

The slow piano intro that started the next song sounded familiar, but I wasn’t sure if I knew it.  It turned out to be a cover of John Lennon’s “Isolation.”  It sure sounded like a Beatles song when they were playing it, but they put a nifty Spoon spin on it.

On the left side of the stage was Gerardo Larios and Alex Fischel both on keys and guitars.  Larios was standing in the back playing mostly keys but the occasional guitar.  I enjoyed watching Larios play the harp-like keyboard sounds during “Inside Out.

Alex Fischel is a rocking lunatic on his side of the stage.  Mostly he’s bouncing and pouncing on his own keyboards and effects arrays but every once in awhile he would strap on a guitar and come out to the center of the stage for a minute, playing some noisy angular guitars like in “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” (a song I can’t believe they didn’t play last time and which I was super exited to hear tonight).

I knew that Trokan would fit in fine with Spoon once he played the throbbing bass of “I Turn My Camera On” which sounded perfect.

They ended the set with a rocking “Don’t You Evah” and  hen followed it with two songs from They Want My Soul, “Do You” and “Rent I Pay.”  Las time, they ended the TLA show with “Rent I Pay” as well.  So the first and last songs were the same, but much of everything else was different.

The sun started to set on them before their set ended, and that seemed to make their set a bit more fun.

Spoon were very loud though and I should have put in ear plugs.  But since they only played for 40 minutes, it wasn’t too much over-exposure for me.

All in all a great set and a good introduction to Spoon for S. who didn’t really know them.


2019 PNC 2018 TLA
Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot] Do I Have to Talk You Into It [Hot]
The Way We Get By [Moon] I Turn My Camera On [Gimme]
My Mathematical Mind [Gimme] Lowdown (Wire cover)
No Bullets Spent [Hits] The Fitted Shirt [Girls]
The Underdog [Ga] Don’t You Evah [Ga]
Isolation (John Lennon cover) Do You [Soul]
Inside Out [Soul] Via Kannela [interlude]
You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb [Ga] I Ain’t the One [Hot]
I Turn My Camera On [Gimme] Everything Hits at Once [Girls]
Don’t You Evah [Ga] Can I Sit Next to You [Hot]
Do You [Soul] My Mathematical Mind [Gimme]
Rent I Pay [Soul] Don’t Make Me a Target [Ga]
The Underdog [Ga]
Got Nuffin [Trans]
Black Like Me [Ga]
Small Stakes [Moon]
Hot Thoughts [Hot]
Rent I Pay [Soul]

[Girls] Girls Can Tell (2001)
[Moon] Kill the Moonlight (2002)
[Gimme] Gimme Fiction (2005)
[Ga] Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga (2007)
[Trans] Transference (2010)
[Soul] They Want My Soul (2014)
[Hot] Hot Thoughts (2017)
[Hits] Everything Hits at Once (2019)

Evidently Eno has different bass drum heads.  I wonder how often he changes them.

This time it was the one on the left.  Last time it was the one on the right.

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[ATTENDED: September 23, 2017] Sunflower Bean

Two years ago I saw Sunflower Bean open for Pixies. I thought they were great live and I wanted to see them again.  Since then, they have put out a second album and another EP.

When I saw that they were opening the Spoon/Cage the Elephant/Beck show, I knew I wanted to get there by 6 to see them again.  They were only given 25 minutes, and there were only about 25 people in the arena (not including the lawn), but they rocked the house.

In the two years since I’ve seen them, they have grown bigger (adding a keyboard player) and more confident.  Julia Cumming was a lot louder and more brash as the frontwoman–shouting to the people in the back (and the lawn) and encouraging us all to stand for the final song.  She also sounded great, employing a few different vocal styles on each song.  As always her bass (she plays a Rickenbacker, which is awesome) sounded great.  The biggest change was in her look.  Last time she was wearing a dress and had a fairly normal hairstyle.  For this show she was all glammed out, with a cool pink tigerprint dress and her hair and make up very new wave.  She looked an awful lot like Debbie Harry. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Spoon

I have been a fan of Spoon for years.  I’ve never seen them before, including when they played at XPN Fest a few years ago.  Since the song “Hot Thoughts” from the new album is so damn catchy, it seemed like a great time to see them live (especially at TLA).

It took the band quite a while to get going after Sneaks went off.  And I gather they were having technical problems throughout the night.  But it sounded fantastic out by us.  Brit Daniel said he’d tell us the story later in the show.

They played a great mix of new songs and old songs.  Daniel’s voice sounded perfect and he was full of energy–interacting with the audience–high fiving, making faces–and jumping all around the stage.

On my side of the stage I was just a few feet from bassist Rob Pope.  I enjoyed the way Pope came really close to the edge of the stage a number of times, practically leaning out above us.   Just behind him was drummer Jim Eno.

The other side of the stage, obscured by fog for the first half of the show was Gerardo Larios on keys and guitar and Alex Fischel on guitar and keys and all manner of sounds.  He opened the show with some interesting noises while shrouded in fog.  As the blue lights zoomed around the rest of the band came out and they started “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: March 6, 2018] Sneaks

I’m fascinated by how opening acts get chosen for shows.  Sneaks was an opener for Palm last summer.  So I have now seen Sneaks more than bands I’ve actually wanted to see.

This Spoon show was not advertised with an opening act, so I was surprised (and a little disappointed) that there was one.  I had enjoyed Sneaks as an opener for Palm. I assume it was because it was a smaller venue (PhilaMOCA fits 250, TLA fits 1,000) and we were more intimate, that the Sneaks vibe worked well.  Spoon is quite a lot bigger than Palm, so I guess that’s a step up, but it brings perils.

About the PhilaMOCA show I wrote:

She has a great raw punk bass sound–it reminds me of the sound of Black Flag… Her riffs were cool, and while repeated a lot, they were certainly interesting enough to keep a song going.

She was also accompanied by a DJ. whose name I didn’t catch.  He kept some good beats and threw in some interesting sound effects.  It gave the show a bit more spontaneity than I was expecting from a drum machine based show.

Sneaks played a whole bunch of songs (most of them are quite short about 2 minutes or so).  Each song had a cool or interesting bass riff, she sang (deadpan) around it for 2 minutes and that was it.  She also did a couple of songs with no bass, just a freestyle rap over the drum machine.  And after 35 or so minutes she was done.



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CV1_TNY_06_23_14Booth.inddSOUNDTRACK: NADA SURF-If I Had a Hi-Fi (2010).

nadaI have enjoyed Nada Surf more with each album.  But for some reason, I never bothered checking out this covers album.  Which is my loss.  Covers albums fall into all different categories–bands that try to ape the original exactly, bands that mess around with the original, and band who take the songs and make them their own.  In this case Nada Surf takes all of these songs and makes them sound just like Nada Surf songs.  Sometimes, they make them sound unlike the original and give them specific Nada Surfisms.

I didn’t know all of the songs on this record.  In fact, I knew very few of them (which is a pretty unusual way to run a  covers record, no?  This falls into the “introduce your fans to songs you love category).

I knew “Enjoy the Silence” (Depeche Mode) which is incredibly different.  Obviously, the original is synthy, but while Nada Surf keep it dark, they add a bit of jangly chords and change the way some of the verses end (the way they do “and forgettable” is so intriguing).  Even the ba bas at the end transform the whole nature of the song.  “Love Goes On!” (The Go-Betweens) is a song I knew a little and Nada Surf sounds an awful lot like the original (but I like the way they make the chorus even bigger).   “Love and Anger” (Kate Bush) is similar to the original but with that Nada Surf twist.  It’s not big and epic and Matthew Caws doesn’t try to hit her notes (he does have a high voice though), but it’s a gorgeous rendition.  “Question” (Moody Blues) is probably the most famous song on the disc.  Nada Surf rocks the song pretty hard.  The pick up the tempo, but slow it down just right for the slow part.  It’s quite faithful, without being in any way proggy.

The rest of the songs I didn’t know.  And some of the bands I’ve never heard of (!).  “Electrocution” (Bill Fox) opens the records and while I don’t know if it’s any different, it could be a great original jangly pop song from Nada Surf.   “Janine” (Arthur Russell) is only a minute long. It’s a pretty, delicate acoustic guitar song.  “You Were So Warm” (Dwight Twilley).  I don’t know that I’ve ever heard a Dwight Twilley song, so I have no idea how this compares, but I like the way the last long of “Janine” is the chorus to this song.  I rather assume the original is not as poppy as this (but I don’t know Twilley, so why do I think that?–Turns out I was entirely wrong, the original sounds an awful lot like this version).

“The Agony of Laffitte” (Spoon).  I know Spoon, but not this song.  I can imagine how Spoon performed it, and I imagine that Nada Surf have smoothed the song out and made it prettier and slightly less dramatic.  “Bye Bye Beauté” (Coralie Clément) is sung in French. I’ve never heard of the original performer.  I don’t know how the original sounds, but this could easily be a Nada Surf song (they have done songs in French before) and the harmonies are beautiful.  Speaking of French, the also do “Evolución” (Mercromina) in French (“ev-oh-loo-see-own” is much more fun to sing than “ev-oh-loo-shun”).  This song starts out slow with a cello stating the melody.  It then turns into a dark acoustic guitar song, minor key and tension-filled.  Vocals don’t come in until a minute and a half in (the song is 5 minutes).  I’m not sure what the song is about, but even the catchy chorus is kinda dark.

“Bright Side” (Soft Pack).  Soft Pack is another band I’ve never heard of.  This song is a fun almost punk track–fast and catchy with simple lyrics a fun chorus (and ahhh backing vocals).  The disc ends with “I Remembered What I Was Going to Say” (The Silly Pillows) another band I’ve never heard of.  It is played on prepared piano in a waltz style.  Perhaps unexpectedly, it has no words.  It’s a nice capper to the album

Incidentally, the cover is a wonder line drawing that is fun to stare at and the liner notes (which would be much much easier to read on vinyl) are just jam packed with information about the original artists.

[READ: September 18, 2012] “Madame Lazarus”

Another story with a dog.  This one begins in a rather amusing manner.  An older gay man has just received a small terrier as a present from his younger lover, James.  The narrator is worried about his boyfriend staying around (he is so young and beautiful, while the narrator, who has just retired, is getting older and older).  The narrator doesn’t like the dog, but decides it will be one more thing to tie him to the James, so he decides to keep her.  He names her Cordelia.

The story is set in Paris, and the older man walks the dog around the city.  But mostly he thinks about his age and his past.  He says that anyone his age is amazed that he survived the Nazis much less lived to be an old man. He also thinks of his ex-wife, Simone, whom he meets for lunch from time to time.

The story seems like a sweet story of age and love, lost love, but love nonetheless.  But then the flashback introduces some darker moments. (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: DIVINE FITS-“Would That Not Be Nice” (2012).

This song was KCRW’s Today’s Top Tune on August 13, 2012.  Divine Fits are a supergroup of sorts with Spoon’s Britt Daniels, New Bomb Turks drummer Sam Brown and Wolf Parade/Handsome Furs member Dan Boeckner.  When I heard who was in the band, I was pretty excited to hear the track.  But I have to say that this sounds kind of like a over-polished Spoon song with keyboards.  Daniels’ voice and musical style are individual enough that he pretty much dominates whatever he does.  But at the same time, I feel like the jagged edges that make Spoon so interesting have been removed.

I assume that Boeckner is responsible for the keyboards and the interesting echo effect on the vocals.  They add an interesting balance to Daniels, but this doesn’t excite me the way Spoon does.

[READ: August 10, 2012] “Signs and Symbols”

I discovered this story because in my post of Lorrie Moore’s “Referential” someone commented that her story was plagiarized from this one.  I had intended to read this Nabokov story immediately so Moore’s would be fresh and I could lay down the “J’accuse.”  It’s been a couple of months but I can say that while her story is obviously inspired by this Nabokov–to the point where she uses elements from this story in her own, it’s a different take on the same idea.

But before we do any comparison, let’s look at this story.  The story begins by stating that for the fourth time in as many years, a young man’s parents don’t know what to take him for his birthday.  The problem is that he is in an institution and many things are forbidden.  And also, for their son man-made objects are either hives of evil or gross comforts–more on that shortly.  They knew they couldn’t get him a gadget of any kind, so they settled on a basket with a set of colorful jellies.  When they travel to him with the gift, everything goes wrong–the train breaks down, there are no busses, and when they finally get there, the nurses inform them that there has been an incident and he cannot see them now.  So they return home with the jellies.

The story describes what is wrong with their son as referential mania.  It’s an interesting situation, and an article about him had appeared in a scientific monthly.  It says that the patient believes that everything happening around him is somehow related to himself.  So clouds transmit details about him, trees talk about him, etc.  And this was driving him crazy (obviously).  He had even tried to kill himself via, what the doctor described as “a masterpiece of inventiveness.” (more…)

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Recently Palladia broadcast some highlights from the Austin City Limits Festival in 2010.  The bands they showed were Phish, The Flaming Lips, Vampire Weekend, Muse, LCD Soundsystem, Sonic Youth, Spoon and Slightly Stoopid.

There were so many good bands at this festival (why is Richard Thompson in such small print?) that I won’t really complain about the inclusion of Slightly Stoopid and LCD Soundsystem on this best of (but they could have included Band of Horses, Yeasayer, Broken Bells, Gogol Bordello (the list goes on!).  (I’d never heard of Slightly Stoopid and although I like LCD Soundsystem, live they were less than stellar).  Although I am glad they didn’t include the Eagles, thank you very much.

I’m trying to get actual set lists of these airings (they mentioned the song titles during the show but I didn’t write them down).

This was a 2-hour broadcast and it was really good.  If they re-air the episode, it’s worth watching.  The quality of the broadcast is excellent (even if the HD format does take up way too much space on a TiVo).

[READ: November 6, 2011] “Beer Cans: A Guide for the Archaeologist”

A while back I read a few old articles that I got from JSTOR, the online archiving resource.  This month, I received some links to three new old articles that are available on JSTOR.  So, since it’s the holiday weekend, I thought it would be fun to mention them now.

And to start of the holidays, I present you with this–a loving history of the beer can (for archaeologists).

This is a fairly fascinating look at the development of the beer can from 1935 to the present.  The selling point of the article is that archeologists could use beer cans to date the timeframe of an excavation.  I agree with this; however, since they only date back to 1935, I’m not entirely convinced of its long-term usefulness.

The problem with the article is that page two shows a chronological timeline.  This in itself is not a problem (although it is odd that it goes from present to 1935 instead of chronologically forward); the problem is that the article itself more or less sates exactly the same thing as the timeline.  For although this article is 20 pages long, there are tons of photos and very little in the way of text beyond what was in that (very thorough) time line.

Nevertheless, you can see the morphing of beer cans from ones that you had to pop open with a can opener to ones that finally had self opening cans.  See the switch from tin to aluminum, and even learn why the tops of cans are a little narrower than the sides (called a neck-in chime, it evidently saves a lot of money). (more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: SPOON-Transference (2010).

The first thing I think of when I think of this disc is staccato.  I’ve read that the disc sounds like a demo, which I don’t quite agree with, although it does sound very raw and spare (in the way the Peter, Bjorn and John’s Living Thing does).

Although the opener “Before Destruction” has a lot of guitars washing around, the dominant sound is a loud short chord and drum combination.  And from the second song on pretty much, things get very chunky.

“Is Love Forever?” has a riff based on tight military beat with guitar chords that match.  There’s very little in the way of extended notes or washes of sound.  “Mystery Zone,” an insanely catchy little ditty, has a similar staccato/spare sound.  Britt Daniel’s voice is pretty much the only instrument that holds a note for more than a beat.  (That’s not literally true, but it seems like it).  Meanwhile, “Who Makes  Your Money” is all drum beats and single keyboard notes.

It’s surprising that this spare musical accompaniment works so effectively, but it does.  Especially on “Written in Reverse” a predominantly pizzicato piano track that rocks in a maniacally-echoed fashion.  Or even more so on the 5 minute “I Saw the Light” which is basically drums and a propulsive bass.  There’s occasional guitar chords which build until the 2 minute mark, when a  3 minute minor chord piano & drum coda takes over.

“Good Night Laura” is a simple piano ballad (again with pizzicato piano chords), while the final song “Nobody Gets Me But You” is full of cacophonous piano runs, most of which sounding precariously on the verge of being random and out of tune, but which always manage to be weird and cool.

Spoon’s last album had a pretty big hit with “Don’t Make Me a Target” which was similar in style to these songs but which had more orchestration.  These songs feel like an attempt to strip away as much as possible and see what remains.  And I guess it’s a testament to the quality of the songs that it works.

[READ: December 1, 2010] This Isn’t What It Looks Like

Is it the nature of children’s books in the 21st century that they are all parts of a series?  Do authors write singular books with no plan of a sequel?  I don’t know.  And I’m not sure that I mind all that much.

This is the fourth book in the “Secret” series, and Bosch hasn’t lost any steam or quality for this part of the saga.  When we last left our heroes, Cass was in a “coma,” induced from eating a time traveling chocolate bar.  Max-Ernest has more or less given up speaking (which is impossible for him) because he feels so guilty about encouraging Cass to eat the chocolate.  And, Yo-Yoji, their erstwhile third member, is off in Japan with his family.  What is M-E to do?

Luckily for M-E, an old friend has returned to school, and he’s causing quite a stir.  Benjamin Blake (the awkward synesthetic artist from the first book) has returned from his finishing school.  He is polished and refined, he uses words like “chum,” and people seem to be well, interested, in him.  And most interesting of all (as only M-E knows), he seems to be able to read people’s minds!  And that’s just what M-E was hoping to do with Cass while she’s in the coma.

For Cass, you see, is “living” in the past.  In our time, she is in the coma, but her mind has traveled back in time to meet The Jester, the man who holds “The Secret” and the man who is her great- great- great- (etc) grandfather.  She is fully conscious in Renaissance times.  The big difference, though, is that she is invisible!  And, in a wonderful publishing joke (the kind of thing that Bosch does so well) all of the chapters that are about Cass are listed as negative (so the book starts with Chapter “-Ten”).  M-E’s chapters start at one, mind you, so you have positive and negative chapters which all converge at a hilarious interlude called Chapter Zero.

The bit about the Renaissance also works very well because their school is having its annual Renaissance Faire (I wish I went to THAT school!) which is sponsored by a theme restaurant which features jousting and medieval times (but which is not Medieval Times, ha ha–I love that everyone says how bad the burgers are but they love the experience).  The Ren Faire is a wonderful plot set-up because with Cass lost in “real” Renaissance, the parallels to the Ren Faire are very clever and often very funny.  (I also love that M-E keeps trying to explain that there is a big difference between Renaissance and Medieval but no one will listen).

And, indeed, cleverness is the word of the book (and the series).  Bosch is having continued great fun with word play (and footnotes!).  He also has some clever puzzles to solve.  The biggest one is the “Hint to the Secret” that the Jester leaves for Cass (and which even a fortune teller tells her about).  I was convinced I had the puzzle sorted out but I was wrong (and it was so obvious when it was revealed!).  And, there’s also a revelation as to the true identity of Pseudonymous Bosch (not the real life author, but the “author” of the books).  I had put a little of this together myself when reading the dialogue in M-E’s head.  But I won’t spoil the revelation of that.

The only secret I will reveal is to say that this is not the final book in the series.  For awhile it seemed like it was heading towards a conclusion.  But as we dramatically learn, there will be more adventures to come.  And that’s pretty cool.

I love an exciting series, but I especially love an exciting series that doesn’t talk down to its readers.  The footnotes and clever games are very fun and thought-provoking (there’s even two emails that are written in code that you need to decipher (unless you cheat and look in the appendix).  And speaking of the Appendix, there’s also a one-way staring contest and directions on how to make a camera obscura (which features in the book and seems like a fun project).

I honestly have no idea how nay books Bosch plans to write in this series (and I have no idea who Pseudonymous Bosch (the author) is for real.  It’s all part of the mystery that I enjoy quite a lot.

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