Spoon with Everest at the Crystal Ballroom

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Spoon at the Crystal Ballroom, Portland, OR, March 6 2009

Despite any punk, blues or avant-garde leanings I may have exhibited in recent years (admittedly, these genres seem like prerequisites for 95% of the Portland hipster elite), I am still very much an indie kid. Ever since the fateful day I picked up Blur’s 13 or Pixies’ Doolittle, there has been a soft spot in my heart for these garage-y, two-to-five-piece rock n’ roll machines. Many of these groups are ultimately disposable—Spoon is not one of them.

Everest proved to be a very capable opening act. Their subtly plaintive lyrics and textural guitars were enjoyable and compelling, if not altogether memorable. As they finished their set and the floor began to fill, it became increasingly apparent that a lot of women like Spoon and, specifically, frontman Britt Daniel. Many of us who prefer listening to the group without suffering an earful of desperate shrieks and woos in conjunction with a new level of uncoordinated dancing were well-served by the Crystal Ballroom. Sideline benches, when stood upon, gave a great view of the stage.

There’s no denying that Spoon are solid live. Many of the songs were nearly indistinguishable in polish from their studio counterparts, and it was refreshing to hear how honest their recorded sound had been. They interspersed a varied and eclectic set with new songs, most of which sounded competent but overly jammy in comparison to their existing catalog. Promising, but a bit self-indulgent for my tastes.

The entire show was quite good, though songs from Kill the Moonlight and Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga fared perceptibly better than their peers. While their performance of “I Turn My Camera On” was crowd-pleasing and memorable, it felt flat in comparison to their surprisingly awesome rendition of “Stay Don’t Go” (with drums replacing the love-it-or-hate-it beat-boxing of the original) or “Don’t Make Me a Target.” If they can streamline and punch up their new songs to match that level of passion, they’ll continue winning over the world… one screaming girl at a time.