photo by Benjamin Lozovsky for Brooklyn Vegan. Check out more photos HERE.
Through three previous albums, Austin export Spoon
tip toed crafty high wires, constructing brilliant records ripe with business-like shimmies, and those that seemed to meander in search of engrossing textures, tones, and overall mood. '02's Kill the Moonlight
pit these characteristics against each other immediately, with the pounding piano and nervy synths of opener "Small Stakes" offsetting the anthemic, sing-along, "The Way We Get By". With Moonlight
's follow-up Gimme Fiction
, the band wandered into jammier territory at times - "They Never Got You" comes to mind - while still providing those a chance to swing and sway to "I Summon You". Then Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
, the band's most successful disc to date. Album standout "The Underdog" was everywhere; it's R&B inspired horns and foot stomping chorus cropping up in movies, TV shows, and every late night show imaginable. Of course, that album also featured "The Ghost of You Lingers"; a song that found the band mapping uncharted, atmospheric territory as well. For every nifty nugget of pop, Spoon spotted listeners a bit of fuzzy experimentation, inciting appeal that flew in every which direction.
Which makes the timing of the band's Friday night engagement under the golden dome of Radio City Music Hall that much more fascinating. Sure, there's the "who would have thunk it?" factor that accompanies any band of their profile headlining (and selling out) such a prestigious venue. But more interesting is the album that brought Spoon to town. Transference
: the band's weirdest outting to date. With it, the band abandoned their tidier sonic tendencies, spending more time (yeah, pretty much the entire album) pursuing liberal forms of song structure, and imperfect sounding recording technique. All this puts Transference
in a more adventurous category than previous releases of course, but that's not always the way to woo the mainstream. Or so I thought. Call it Spoon's Yankee Hotel Foxtrot
kind of moment.
Despite revealing this artier side of themselves, Friday evening's show at Radio City suggests the water's still rising for Spoon, and a surprisingly, dynamic performance indicated that's a very good thing. Preceding his band on stage, Daniel milked the monstrous moment (as he should), calling the dispersed crowd back to their seats with solo versions of both "Me and the Bean" and "The Mystery Zone". Those at ground level wouldn't remain seated for long, as Jim Eno and the rest of the band moseyed on stage for a room romping version of "Written in Reverse".
Over the next hour and half, the band would mix tried and true, back catalogue favorites ("Don't Make Me a Target", "I Summon You", "Rhythm and Soul") with some of Transference
's very best cuts. Acknowledging the magic of the moment, the band tried a few one of a kind tricks for the evening, prepping a cover of The Damned's "Love Song" and inviting the Fiery Furnaces' Eleanor Friedberger to the stage to aid in vocals on "Waiting to Know You" and "Someone Something". In truth, all three songs fell a bit flat, though later appearing in the encore with Wolf Parade's Dan Boekner for a cover of that band's "Modern World" more than made up for the semi-flub.
Those decisions aside, the show signaled an impressive next step in the continued evolution of the band. Here, pouring out the massive, accordion spread of speakers dangling from the ceiling, the band sounded bold and boisterous, with the most playful moment of the evening coming during a four song stretch that featured a grinning, six piece brass section. "You Got Yr Cherry Bomb" and "The Underdog" would arguably receive the most enthusiastic responses of the evening...though my personal favorites were the circulating jam of "Nobody Gets Me But You" and the snarling bite of "I Saw the Light".
Quite simply, Spoon belonged in this colossal setting...Transference
belonged in this setting. Dense, crunchy chords, Daniel's thrilling radio static guitar solos, ivory snapping piano work (at one point Eric Harvey haphazardly tossed an entire piano on its' end), a massive anchor of bass and drum work; the band loomed so large, I could feel every bit of the band's makeup trickle down the back of my throat as I inhaled it. Talk about being Spoon fed. - David Pitz