spoon

Concert Review: Spoon, July 25, Massey Hall

Posted on by Ricky in Concerts | Leave a comment

spoon

One of the things I often like to say (but don’t often say) is that “you always know if it’s a Spoon song, Spoon sounds like no one else and no one else sounds like Spoon”. Did that quite make sense? I don’t know, what I’m essentially saying is that Spoon as a band are undeniably unique. Nine albums in, the Austin band is still going strong. Hot Thoughts, their latest offering seems to have taken a new electronic direction while still sounding like Spoon and it’s very good. Naturally they are touring the album and played the prestigious Massey Hall on Tuesday night in support.

This was my seventh time seeing Spoon. For the record here are all the times I’ve seen a Spoon show:

October 2007, Kool Haus, Toronto – I got sick during this show, unfortunately

July 2010, Molson Amphitheatre – This was a good set, but was overshadowed by the absurdly entertaining Flaming Lips show that happened after. They did bring out a horns section for the Underdog, if I remembered correctly, which was great.

NXNE 2014, Horseshoe Tavern – An amazing show with sad consequences, NXNE clearly blew their load that year and has been a mere shallow shell of itself since. Still, this show made everyone in the Horseshoe feel special as a band that popular should not have been playing a venue that small.

SXSW 2015, Moody Theatre – My favourite Spoon show of all time. This was a homecoming show of epic proportions, in a gorgeous venue and with Britt Daniel’s parents in the crowd. Don’t get me wrong, Spoon plays SXSW almost every year but this one just felt special.

June 2015, Phoenix – Honestly forgot I went to this show until I checked my google docs.

SXSW 2017, Austin Convention Center – Spoon played like seven SXSW shows this year to support Hot Thoughts. We picked one that might have been a bit different – a performance in a hall at the convention center. Mostly we picked this show because it was air conditioned and indoors. The show was good and introduced some tracks from Hot Thoughts that we knew would always be in the concert rotation once we heard it live.

So with that in mind, the Spoon show on Tuesday was like meeting an old friend again. With over 24 years of experience, Spoon is no doubt very good live. They have a very workmanlike attitude with barely any banter in between songs (save for a weird piano number that gave everyone on stage a break) and their live interpretation of their songs has enough looseness to it that you know that you aren’t listening to the album version really loud. Britt Daniel is an energetic front man, with good stage coverage and the occasional rock and roll pose.

As you would expect, the set mixed new and old and newer songs such as “Hot Thoughts” and “Do I Have To Talk You Into It” sound like instant classics. The first with almost a disco vibe to start and the latter with your classic Britt Daniel raspy vocal delivery that also serves as the rhythm of the song. Most of the classics got played and everyone had a good time.

But you know what? As I was listening to the concert, a thought occurred to me. Spoon doesn’t have an anthem. Maybe it’s just me, but they don’t actually have a song where everyone is singing along to every word. That seemed awfully strange until I mentally went through their back catalog, and it’s pretty true. You know that moment that happens often in shows when the lead singer hands the mic over the crowd and everyone is singing along? That NEVER happens at a Spoon show. In no way does it detract from a Spoon set, but I found that to be a bit mind blowing. What is it about Spoon tracks that prevent it from being completely anthemic? Anyways, a hot take on Spoon, or maybe completely irrelevant.

Anyways, anthem or not, it’s hard to beat Spoon at Massey Hall.

SXSW Quick Reviews: Spoon, Black Lips, New Pornographers, Supermoon, Ramesh

Posted on by Ricky in South By Southwest | Leave a comment

Black Lips

Spoon - The local band made a big impact at SXSW, hosting a residency throughout the week to introduce people to their excellent new album Hot Thoughts. It was impossible to miss them and frankly, why would you miss them? Spoon has consistently been good and this year was no different. Their show mixed new and old, and even with the new synth driven sounds, it’s still a Spoon song in it’s essence. One of the things I like to say about Spoon which might be generic and lazy is that there is no other band that sounds like Spoon and even as the group explores it’s sound, I think that will always be true.

Black Lips – Gone are the days when the Black Lips play insane shows where bodily fluids flew about like an Indian Monsoon. The group is older but still a ton of fun and they proved it with a fun, rocking show at the Cedar Courtyard. The short set featured some new songs and some old classics like “Oh Katrina” and “Bone Marrow.” Even in a tight environment like the Courtyard, the group found space to be creative with Jack Hines sliding off the stair rails to start the show off. For the Black Lips fans that braved their way to the front, they were also treated to some free donuts as well, which is nice.

New Pornographers – If the showcase I witnessed is any indication, the new New Pornographers album will see the band tackle new sonic landscapes with a more synth driven sound. Given their past track record, I say, why not? It was nice to see Neko Case back in the fold at Stubbs on Wednesday night as she joined the group to promote new records and relive old classics. Hearing Neko sing “Mass Romantic” is rather nice although I’ve heard non Neko for so long now it’s kinda of jarring.

Ramesh - For me, I’ll always wonder what happened to Voxtrot. Ramesh’s former band started off with an amazing EP but was unable to maintain momentum. Since then I have seen Ramesh’s name bandied about the music circle but he has yet to establish the foothold he once had. Still Ramesh’s showcase on Tuesday showed flourishes of what made me like Voxtrot – well written songs that buoy between happy and sad while navigating an 80’s pop-inspired musical landscape. The set was good and perhaps this configuration of the band will see success once again.

Supermoon - An all female quartet from Vancouver, Supermoon played fun, guitar driven, almost East Coast sounding rock music at the Canada House on a semi warm afternoon. Clearly a new band, the group showed potential while also showcasing a dry humor and actually ran out of songs rather quickly, despite the crowd wanting more. Not a bad start.

Concert Review: Fang Island, Tokyo Police Club, Spoon, The Flaming Lips, July 8th, Molson Ampitheatre

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything, Music | 12 Comments


Image courtesy of Jeff Denberg

I’m officially bogarting this review. You heard me right, I’m bogarting this review, which is something I have never ever done in my life before. You’re witnessing history here, folks. I’m clamoring to write about something that does not specifically benefit my self-interested bludgeoning. I’m bogarting something that is not a beer or a j.

Wait.

Scratch that. Seeing as last night’s Flaming Lips show completely blew away anything I could have previously imagined in terms of concert theatrics, showmanship, and the lustre of Wayne Coyne, this is the precise definition of self-interested bludgeoning.

Two words describe the Flaming Lips’ set: HOLY FUCK. I have never seen them live before, and as much hype as you have heard about them, nothing can possibly prepare you for seeing it yourself, up close and personal. Even if you have seen them 100 times before, I can’t imagine sitting back and not being set on fire by the enthusiasm Wayne Coyne ignited last night. I’m going to run through the elements of why this show was so awesome, despite being environmentally unfriendly:

CONFETTI CANONS:
As someone who is often satisfied with the most lo-fi things in life, the special effects strewn throughout this show was a sensory overload What’s not to like about confetti canons? They make a satisfying cork pop sound, awesome shit flies out everywhere and lands on you. Some poor grounds person ends up having to sweep up tons of shit. It’s a win-win-win situation.\

LIGHTSHOW SCREEN:
A ginormous light show screen served as an awesomely bizarre Clockwork Orange-like backdrop throughout the night. Coyne had a camera strapped to his microphone that was projected on the screen inbetween giant dancing topless ladies, vaginas, vulvas, births, intercourse, bunnies, and anything else you can think of.


Image courtesy of Jeff Denberg

CONFETTI-FILLED BALLOONS:
Dozens of brightly coloured giant balloons floated throughout the audience, reminding me of a gum ball in a dryer paradise. The most joyous part of this whole display was when the balloons volleyed over to someone who would pop it, exploding into a happy confetti show within a confetti show.


Image courtesy of Jeff Denberg

SPACE BUBBLE:
The entrance that these guys make is absolutely outrageous in the best possible way. We were treated to a giant vagina pounding on a giant screen before each band member rolled out on a platform board. Coyne got tossed around in his legendary space bubble all over people who got floor tickets, while instructing them to squish super close together so that he could roll around like an American Gladiator. If you need any further confirmation that Wayne Coyne is a performance God, look no further than his efforts in his space bubble.

ENTHUSIASM:
You would think that after 27 years of recording and performing and 2006’s Virgin Festival abortion, Wayne Coyne and company would be more jaded than the decade that made them famous. You would be a complete fucking fool to think so, though, because this man showed more love and enthusiasm towards us than anyone you can imagine. This is a man who is on the brink of turning 50 years old, and has more bright-eyed optimism than any 3 year old I know. There wasn’t a moment where he wasn’t trying to fist pump us into a pogo-sticking screaming frenzy. And it worked. This is mob mentality done right.

INTIMACY / CONNECTION:
If last night’s concert was the equivalent of a man and my first date with him, I’d be so under his flashy spell that he might be able to con me out of all of my assets in a day and a night. Wayne Coyne did everything in his power to get everyone scream-singing along at the top of their lungs, making various helicopter, weather, and animal noises to I Can Be A Frog, and clapping in unison. We had many conversations with Wayne that night, some involving love (“If you give love, you never have to worry about being loved.”), some involving world peace (“I want everyone to make a peace sign and direct it up into the air, shooting it anywhere for peace somewhere”), some involving dreams (“Have you ever had a dream, only to think you weren’t having a dream? Or thought you were awake, only to think you were dreaming?”), some involving the Bush Administration (“This song is about turning all of the hatred and frustration we had about George W. Bush and channeling it into our support for Barack Obama”), some involving the consumption of weed (“I smell a lot of weed tonight. Let’s pretend that in this section of the city, the Mayor of Toronto has legalized marijuana”).

In other words, there’s nothing Coyne wasn’t willing to share with us last night. Looking at his grinning face whenever he received scream-metre love back, and how genuinely touched he was (“You know hearing that sound, is the greatest sound anyone can ever hear”). It’s easy to fall in love with Wayne Coyne as a performer and a person. I don’t know shit all about him as a person, but I’m going to pretend everything I know about his surrealist, art-loving self is real and true. He has the dreamboat qualities of a real capital M Man. With longish curly hair and a full man beard to boot…yep, I’m completely smitten.

GIANT HANDS:
Giant hands that shot out green lasers onto ginormous twin disco balls. Need I say more?

SING-ALONGS:
As anyone who has sat in the back seat of my parents’ vehicle before when a Fleetwood Mac song has been playing knows, there’s nothing I enjoy more than a good sing-along. The only show I can think of that, MIGHT surpass this one in terms of singing along would be the Violent Femmes show I went to back in ’98. Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots, Do You Realize?, She Don’t Use Jelly, and The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song all strained our vocal chords.

Setlist:

  1. The Fear
  2. Worm Mountain
  3. Silver Trembling Hands
  4. She Don’t Use Jelly
  5. The Yeah Yeah Yeah Song
  6. The Sparrow Looks Up at the Machine
  7. In The Morning of the Magicians
  8. I Can Be a Frog
  9. Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots, Pt. 1
  10. See the Leaves
  11. Pompeii Am Götterdämmerung
  12. The W.A.N.D.

Encore:
Do You Realize??

OK, I realise this has been a completely one-sided schoolgirl crush gushing about how amazing the Lips were, but I should mention that Austin band Spoon was also great (and I now really regret skipping their show with Deerhunter back in March). I was expecting dry, folk laden songs, and I was surprised how great their more electronic songs were. It’s just that after seeing Wayne Coyne and company, none of us could really remember their set. Tokyo Police Club are an even more distant memory, whom Coyne referred to as the “Tokyo Police Chaps”, also complimenting “whoever put this show together”. We missed Fang Island and the first 1/3 of the Tokyo Police Club set, but I’m not sure that it matters.

A solid 4.5 hours of top shelf rock ‘n roll was worth every cent of the $70 we paid. Officially the most expensive, and most satisfying show ever.

SXSW Primers – Bands A to Z

Posted on by Ricky in Everything, South By Southwest | 1 Comment

panic manual awkward handshake

Toronto – Here is an A to Z list of bands playing at SXSW. I’ve even been kind enough to link each band to their respective myspace/website so you can check them out*. Apologies if I missed any letters, English isn’t my first language.

Antlers – I might see these guys again, although it’d be weird to see their depressing music in the clear afternoon light

Broken Bells – Danger Mouse + The guy from the Shins? Yes please. Will this album only kind of change Natalie Portman’s life?

Chew Lips – English dance-pop act has Josh blowing his load with each single they release. Might check them out.

Dr. Dog – Lo-fi folk band keeps on churning out consistently good albums. New album Shame drops sometime in April

Everybody Was In The French Resistance…Now! – I had no idea Eddie Argos (of Art Brut) had a new band. It has to be great. In Argos I trust.

Fanfarlo -They cancelled their show in Toronto in December. I now get to see this London band at a warmer venue. Awesome. Luna is an amazing track.

Gay Witch Abortion – I have never heard of this band, but look at that band name.

Holy Fuck – This time, when I see them, I won’t confuse this Toronto electronic act with Polaris winning Toronto hardcore band Fucked Up

Imaad Wasif – 24 Terrorist character or Canadian born Indian singer songwriter? Check out his show and decide.

Jj – Where did these Swedes come from? From Africa to Malaga was such a good chill tune, but their new album sounds more or less the same.

Kyle Lee – Is this a Chinese Texan hip hop artist? I don’t know, but he has an Asian last name so here’s hoping.

Local Natives – They impressed many people last year, a breakout album later, these guys are ready to rule Earth.

Marina and the Diamonds – I wrote about them already, but she’ll be very good live.

Neon Indian – Hipster ratio will be off the charts for this HRO fan favorite.

Orquestra Contemporânea De Olinda – Brazillian worldly music. Gotta check out some worldly stuff for Mark

Pains of Being Pure at Heart – Shoegazey throwback band played about a billion shows last year, I didn’t catch them then. I won’t make the same mistake again. Maybe.

Quest for Fire – No idea who they are but they are the first band with the letter Q in it I see. Clever marketing yo.

Russian Futurists – Had a blast seeing them at Wavelengths despite short set. Should have equal blast at SXSW despite short set.

Spoon – Austin’s favourite band open SXSW at Stubbs with what undoubtedly will be a great performance.

Toro Y Moi – One of the first big discoveries of 2010, this dude will bring some chilled tunes to Austin.

Ume – Frank from Chromewaves really enjoys this bands live set. Who am I to argue.

VV Brown – Wonderfully talented retro pop sounding VV Brown will bring what is surely a great set to SXSW.

Walkmen – 7 or 8 years later, I still love the song The Rat

Xx – They continually seem to have bad luck, hope these guys make it to SXSW

You Say Party! We Say Die! – BC band looks to build on the success of XXXX here in Austin. Laura Palmer’s Prom..what a song

Zeus - Arts and Craft band is about to hit the stratusphere with their debut (?) album.

*(it’s also really good for search engines)