Show Review: Spoon with Deerhunter and Micachu & The Shapes at The Fox Oakland, 4/13/2010

by Jonathan Pirro on April 14, 2010

The poster for tonight's Spoon show

The poster for tonight's Spoon show

The bands of the Fox Theater have, as of late, been jumping back and forth across a gamut of incredibly popular to somewhat-smaller-but-still-with-a-chance-of-selling-the-place-out. This has caused the audience to span from regular concertgoers to I-came-tonight-because-I-loved-that-band-on-the-radio; as a result, most of the shows have brought a large, but someone random, selection of their fanbase. The crowd for tonight’s Spoon show, however, was solid in their intention and dedication. Gone was the stunned disbelief of seeing a band onstage for the first time; absent were the jaded showgoers who had “seen this band a thousand times.” The fans for tonight’s show were much like the band’s performance: steadfast, tightly-knit, and full of rock-and-roll energy.

Surrey-born singer-songwriter Micachu, joined by her backing band The Shapes, took the stage to a smallish and somewhat inattentive crowd; undaunted, they launched right into their 45-minute set, which seemed to be built largely around looping piano drones, scraching, rhythmic effects created by Micachu’s guitar, and drummer Marc Pell’s riotous, chaotic percussion. Wild and exciting as it might sound, the tempo of the set only picked up for the final song; nearly all of the set was very slow, droning, and more than a little repetitive. Micachu went for some banter between the songs, expressing her regret at the end of the tour with Spoon and Deerhunter, but her words were all but ignored and she seemed to lose enthusiasm for them as the set wore on. Despite the fact that the band might have been highly enjoyed at any number of experimental performances, the crowd was definitely looking for something with more rock and more punch. (As stated, however, the explosive, careening end of Micachu’s set made up for the lackluster beginning from whence it came.)

There was a great deal more enthusiasm for the Georgian rock quartet of Deerhunter, who seemed determined to get the rest of the show back on track, and launched into their set with great aplomb. The lights, normally somewhat dormant for the opening acts, kicked into high gear, with spiraling patterns, cycling hues, and pulsing strobes, all the time adding to the great wall of noise that Deerhunter was creating onstage. Sounding like a cross between a less-trance-minded STS9, and a slightly-less-focused My Bloody Valentine (with some raw energy thrown in for good measure), most of Deerhunter’s pieces were between 7 and 12 minutes in length, some often consisting of (or based around) little more than one or two notes. While this might seem unnecessarily minimalistic and just as droning as the openers, the overwhelming influence of the visuals, combined with the sweeping effects and unrelenting endurance of the band’s performance, kicked the energy of the theater back into high gear. The band looked positively drained when they left the stage, with a roaring cheer from the crowd following them off.

Roughly 20 minutes after Deerhunter’s gear had been cleared from the stage, Spoon took their place, with the orchestral swell of Richard Strauss’ Thus Spoke Zarathustra (the theme from 2001: A Space Odyssey) signaling the band’s entrance. Bathed in small yellow lights hung on long strings about the stage, singer Britt Daniel opened the show with an acoustic performance of “Before Destruction,” the opening piece on Spoon’s 2010 album, Transference. The silence in the theater, and the slow but steady response of the rest of the band, indicated that this was the moment that everyone had been waiting for; this was confirmed when Daniel finished the song, took up an electric guitar, and went tearing into a thunderous performance of “I Saw The Light,” ending with a long battle between himself and Eric Harvey on keyboards. Layers and layers of guitar, reverb, and distorted wailing had been built up for several long minutes, before the song came to its sudden end; the resulting fanfare was like a cannon blast within the theater. The men of the evening had arrived, and were ready to close their spring tour with one hell of a set.

While not possessing as wild and overtly-psychedelic of a light show as the one that Deerhunter had employed, Spoon’s stage was far from sparse. Besides the glowing lights draped around mic stands, instruments, and monitors, there were a set of rectangular panels behind the band which acted as extensions for the lights underneath them. A few bright yellow floodlights topped off the setup, keeping the band in a somewhat-random lighting scheme, which mostly found common ground in the shades of color employed for each song. A continuous wave of machine fog kept rolling in throughout the set, with Daniel taking refuge behind or under it for many of his guitar solos, or just to go ballistic on the myriad of effects boxes that were littered around him on the stage.

The performance consisted of 19 (!) songs, with an extra 5 in the encore. Most of the songs from Transference made their appearance, with a good portion of the set also coming from their two prior albums. Only 2 pieces from Kill The Moonlight, the 2003 album that gave the band great critical acclaim, were performed: “The Way We Get By,” as the third song of the night, and “Someone Something,” near the end of the set. A surprise came in the form of “Modern World,” a song by Montreal indie rockers Wolf Parade, which Spoon slipped into the middle of their set. The biggest cheering and singalongs came with “I Summon You” and “The Underdog” — curiously, two somewhat similar tunes, themselves — and were only matched in enthusiasm when the band played tapped into two more songs from their third album, Girls Can Tell, for their encore. The set ended with “Black Like Me,” while the encore and show closed with “You’ve Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” — both from 2007’s Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga.

This was my second Spoon concert, and both times I was infinitely impressed by how spot-on the band’s performance was, and how tight of a unit the members made together. Despite Daniel’s complaints of being slightly ill a few times through the set, his voice never faltered, and his guitar dominated the show with a variety of tape loops, warping effects, and heavy, noisy smatterings of sound. The enthusiasm from the crowd never dwindled, the audience watching with rapt attention for the almost-2-hour-long set. Relatively unfamiliar though I might be with Spoon’s new, and much older, recordings, the show was utterly marvelous, and I hope they bring a similar treat to the thousands of fans waiting for them at Coachella in a few days.

Setlist (along with accompanying photo):

  1. Before Destruction
  2. I Saw The Light
  3. The Way We Get By
  4. Got Nuffin’
  5. My Mathematical Mind
  6. Don’t Make Me A Target
  7. The Ghost Of You Lingers
  8. Nobody Gets Me But You
  9. Rhythm And Soul
  10. Everything Hits At Once
  11. Modern World (Wolf Parade Cover)
  12. Written In Reverse
  13. Who Makes Your Money
  14. They Never Got You
  15. I Summon You
  16. Someone Something
  17. Don’t You Evah
  18. The Underdog
  19. Black Like Me

ENCORE

  1. Me And The Bean
  2. Is Love Forever?
  3. Anything You Want
  4. I Turn My Camera On
  5. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
Spoon's setlist (with list of encore possibilities)

Spoon's setlist (with list of encore possibilities)

Jonathan Pirro

Off-kilter multimedia enthusiast.

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suchaclatter April 14, 2010 at 11:06 pm

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