Spoon Live @ The Showbox
With Great Grandpa
January 11, 2018
Words and Photos by Rachel Bennett
I have always liked Spoon. I grew up hearing their music on alternative radio and their song “The Way We Get By” on iconic TV show The O.C. I even saw them live when I was 15 or 16 years old (but, even though Spoon was headlining, my teenage self was really there to see Passion Pit and Phoenix who opened the show).
Since then, Spoon has remained a band I like but also one that fades back into my teenage memories. Their newest albums hadn’t even been on my radar, but when I heard they were playing two nights in Seattle this month I jumped at the chance to see them live once again.
Unsurprisingly, both shows in Seattle were sold out. People of all ages packed into the Showbox, though I noticed that the majority was an older crowd of fans who clearly have been following this band since the beginning.
Louisville group White Reaper was scheduled to open the show, but they unfortunately couldn’t make it due to weather conditions. Instead, Seattle’s very own Great Grandpa (#41for2016) opened, and they killed it. Lead vocalist Alex Menne expressed the band’s gratitude and awe to be opening for Spoon; “We were going to be here anyway” she said, “We’re big Spoon fans.”
When the Austin group began playing their impressive roster of songs I was surprised to find that I shared Menne’s sentiment; most of the songs were familiar to me, and I was able to sing along to the majority of them. My friend experienced the same thing, and we were surprised to be filled with nostalgia. We were secretly huge Spoon fans; we just hadn’t realized it until now.
I think it’s magical to rediscover a band later in life. It’s cool to hear something with matured ears and feel different emotional impact depending on what you’re going through and who you are at that time. Seeing Spoon live again ten years later was an incredible experience. The members of Spoon are insanely talented musicians and performers, and I was blown away by their stage presence, the energy they pumped into even the songs they’ve played a thousand times, and the ability to weave old and new songs together into a beautifully cohesive set.
Adding to the band’s appeal, Britt Daniel is an effortless rock star, somehow appearing too-cool-for-school in his black skinny jeans, white button-down, and black jean blazer, while also seeming like just a normal dude who you’d want to kick back with over coffee or a beer. His voice is resonating; he is able to switch from the band’s more upbeat head-bangers, to their slower, more intense numbers with effortless power and emotion.
I felt shivers down my spine when Daniel sang “WhisperI’lllistentohearit” off their new album. The song began with an unwavering piano synth beat and soft guitar, paired with Daniel’s almost haunting voice. Once he had the audience completely entranced, eyes glued to the stage, bodies still, the band broke out into a fast drumbeat and guitar shredding that got bodies moving and grooving. We belonged to the band.
Spoon has put out a new full-length album every few years since 1996, and the latest, Hot Thoughts, released this past year, is as strong as any of the others. The songs retain the band’s personal sound; catchy, punchy, dancy at times, but full of plenty of synth and shredding guitar riffs, and Britt Daniel’s unique voice and lyrics. When I listen to the songs I feel like I’ve heard them before, but not in a boring way; like they’ve always existed in my subconscious and the band has just shaped them into reality.
A few of my favorites off Spoon’s newest album: “WhisperI’lllistentohearit,” “Pink Up,” “Can I Sit Next to You,” “I Ain’t the One.”
I have no problem with a band experimenting with their sound and changing things up as time goes on, but sometimes bands are lead astray by the pressures of the music industry and they change for the worse. Spoon has stood strong over the years, and the fact that their songs from 1996 and 2017 are comparable is an awesome feat. The earlier stuff is definitely more grungy, garage rock-esque, while the newer stuff is a bit more polished and reminiscent of indie-pop/rock, psychedelic, and experimental music, but Spoon’s delightfully distinguishable sound stays true throughout. I left the show with a new appreciation for this band, and I can’t wait to delve deeper into their discography with fresh ears.