They almost seemed out of place. A small, beachside San Diego bar, televisions on in the back, well lit, no smoking, people coming and going. And though the Interpol-via-Pedro the Lion sincerity of openers American Music Club wasn�t lost on the crowd, there wasn�t a strong sense of anticipation for headliners Spoon, on the final night of their tour. That sense of electricity, a wire ready to snap, wasn�t there.
It took singer/guitarist Britt Daniel a few songs to warm up. He played it cool, doing his best John Lennon on �The Beast and the Dragon, Adored� (off 2005�s Gimme Fiction), �Someone Something� (off 2002�s Kill the Moonlight) and �The Fitted Shirt� (off 2001�s Girls Can Tell). He seemed reserved, though, running through a playbook. It was a power outage during the fifth song, �The Delicate Place� (off 2005�s Gimme Fiction), that stopped the song mid-intro and served as a jolt to Daniel, drummer Jim Eno, keyboardist/guitarist Eric Harvey and bassist Josh Zarbo. From there, they were looser, less restrained, and � unimportant though it sounds in the world of self-serious indie-rock � they were having fun.
Spoon has a precision to its sparse sound, an aesthetic combining jangly, White Album-era-Bealtes-influenced pop tunes (�The Delicate Place,� �I Summon You,�) with more experimental tunes such as �Small Stakes,� �Paper Tiger� and �My Mathematical Mind.� But the connector throughout is an acute understanding of the basic elements of rock and pop music. What makes Spoon�s albums and live shows so interesting is watching the members take the basic formula � bass, guitar, drums, keys � and filter it through their creative, forward-thinking whim � and a row of impressive effects pedals. Watching Eno add a simple floor-tom rhythm Kill the Moonlight�s infectious but minimalist opener �Small Stakes� was to see a headphone masterpiece rewritten for the stage, reworked to great success.
Twice, during �Paper Tiger� and �They Never Got You,� the crowd seemed to lose interest in the extended, droning guitar passages. But, again, what puts Spoon above the multitude of indie-rock bands is that although they may stretch an intro or lose themselves in electronic manipulations (sounding not unlike Wilco�s more recent melodic experiments), the members can � and did � go from artsy noise-rock to funk (crowd favorite �I Turn My Camera On�) and back to the Sgt. Pepper�s infection of �I Summon You� and �The Fitted Shirt.�
The final song in a three-song encore was Kill the Moonlight�s �Jonathon Fisk,� which saw Daniel with his back to the crowd. The band had left, but Daniel stood alone, head bent, pounding out a fuzz of distortion, a hypnotic one-note chorus that, had it been in the beginning, may have been lost on some of the crowd. But now it held everyone�s attention, and for about a minute it was as if Daniel was saying: �The show may be over, the tour may be done, but, at least until the power cuts out again, I�ll keep going.�
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Prefix review: Spoon [Gimme Fiction] by Mike Krolak
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