Sunday, April 11, 2010

Live: Spoon, Deerhunter, Micachu & The Shapes, 4/9/10

Spoon - Moore Theatre, Seattle, WA 4/9/2010
Plus Guests:
Micachu & The Shapes

Trying to learn from past experience, I brought a pair of earplugs to this show. Last time I saw Spoon live, before they released the album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, it was at the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, and it was one of the loudest shows I've ever seen. This time, the earplugs never got out of their little box in my pocket. From my nosebleed seat in Seattle's Moore Theater, originally an opulent 1920s movie palace, I didn't need them. I might not have needed them had I been in the front row. The fact that a front row existed in the first place, not to mention the sound volume, signaled just how much Spoon's fan base has evolved in its growth since 2006. This production seemed to be catering to the fiftysomething crowd.

This was not lost on Deerhunter's Bradford Cox. The minute he stepped up to the microphone, he had one look at the rows of folding chairs on the floor, and said something like, "This is the weirdest shit I've ever seen." And later, "What is this, the Seattle High School talent show?" In the past, pairing Spoon and Deerhunter might not have been so odd. I imagine that Spoon ten years ago might have been something like Deerhunter today: Young, up-and-coming, fresh, hungry, new.

Fortunately, although Spoon's fans now include the normie crowd, the band is as eccentric as ever. On their latest album, Transference, Spoon shows as untouchable a talent as before for playing old-school rock 'n' roll that still somehow sounds new and hip. I wasn't too sure this would be the case after Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, their most radio-friendly but least interesting effort to date. On stage, while always excellent performers, they've only improved. They played a long set spanning most of their career (I was a little disappointed they didn't play "Metal Detektor" or any other songs earlier than 2001's Girls Can Tell). Singer Britt Daniel's unique brand of stage presence adds an entertaining touch. He's as cool and confident on stage as any singer I've seen. My first time seeing Spoon, I was with a friend who had a huge rock-star crush on him. When he walked into the lobby, she blushed and hid behind me. It's just unfair.

While Spoon didn't disappoint, Deerhunter was the band I came to see. While not so polished as Spoon, they brought an energy and edginess foreign to Spoon's newer work. Despite some things going wrong (a guitar amp died midway through their set) they worked through it well. At first, they stuck to some of their most accessible material. I was especially pleased to hear "Hazel Street," one of my favorite of their songs, but I was also hoping to hear the likes of "Cryptograms," "Microcastle," "White Ink," or something of that weird streak. At first, Deerhunter stuck to more accessible material.

Then they blew my mind. What started as a cover of The Stooges' "I Want To Be Your Dog" morphed into a long, noisy, wild jam, with Cox giving an improvised speech on Curt Cobain, noting that the anniversary of Cobain's death had only been a few days earlier. In Seattle, where Nirvana T-shirts are sold in tourist shops alongside "Sleepless in Seattle" baseball caps, Cobain is fetishized in exactly the way that arguably drove him to suicide. So hearing references to Cobain can get a little tiresome, but not coming from Cox, someone who clearly has a genuine appreciation for Nirvana, who spent his whole day crying at age 12 when he heard the news. "I never thought I'd live to be 27," said Cox, who is now 27 (as am I), Cobain's age at death. He said things like, "I used to dream that Kurt Cobain would come from the sky with his flaming guitar and split open the heads of the kids who used to make me suck their dicks." Heavy stuff.

Micachu & The Shapes also put on a noteworthy performance. Hailing from the U.K. with a DIY vibe, they're a band I'd like to learn more about.

My only major complaint about the event: While Spoon got excellent audio treatment, it sounded like the sound engineer was taking a nap during Deerhunter's and Micachu & The Shapes' sets. Certainly most people came to see Spoon, but you've got to give a little love to the openers.

Watch: Jonathon Fisk by Spoon

"I Turn My Camera On" by Spoon

Hazel St. by Deerhunter (unofficial video?)

"Golden Phone" by Micachu & The Shapes

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