so i went to Built to Spill last night at the 930 Club …here is some reactions and observations:
1) opening band Camper Van Beethoven was painfully terrible. a bevvy of guitar wankery and overabundance of FORTE!!! rocking without dynamics. somehow the crowd seemed into this shite and apparantly this band has been a favourite of many since the mid eighties, but perhaps they should have faded away. (please people, don’t clap…it will just encourage them)
2) Camper reminded me of a bad jamband but without the melodies, directed solos and focused improvisation (ala Phish) and mostly without, um, LYRICS!?!! just think of a stage full of 4 guitarists strumming loudly in one key over and over and over and over into a godless eternity… i dont know why so many jambands get such a bad rap…especially when this shit is out there.
3) i briefly felt bad for them as they projected their own iMovie-made home video music video montages on a screen behind them, but really it was just a bunch of random clips found no doubt off youtube and compiled with their own badly shot band videos.
4) ugh…they could have played 8 less songs and i would have been thrilled.
5) between sets i ran into some other NPR types and while chatting it up i strangely got light headed and thought i was going to faint. for about 5minutes i was sweating heavily and dizzy. i went to bathroom and sat in stall for a bit until it passed. this could have been because a) i was tired and and had just drunk a beer too fast b) i saw a freshly raw tattoo on one of the NPR girl’s wrist …either way i was afraid i was going to have to bail out, but luckily i recovered. could it have been the opening band? the world will never know.
6) i might be more squemish to gore than i thought. i once got light headed like that in high school health class while watching a video about open brain surgery. weird.
7) maybe it was the juxtaposition of Built to Spill compared to the last band’s aural assault, but i thought this band was freaking good live. for years i hated or at least had a strong disliking for this band. their records always seemed so contrived and reminiscent of the OAR-type love fest, drunken pseudo jams that so many a college frat guy would listen to. but i think this band converted me with their live show.
8) Lead singer Doug Martsch’s voice and vocal melodies of their songs reminded me of Ben Gibbard (death cab) yet not as sweetly warm and romantic. they are more aggressive in that My Morning Jacket, Shout out Louds kind of way. Built to Spill have more of a southern rock improvisational style reminiscent of the Allman Brothers but don’t tell their fans because they might get upset that they listen to a jamband (!?!)
9) what is the story with all these bands having so many beards? i thought Jim James (My Morning Jacket) and Will Oldham (Bonnie Prince Billy) had enough facial hair to go around for all of rock and roll. then, maybe i’m just jealous of my inability at a real beard.
10) overall a nice surprise from a band that i had previously written off because a) i probably didn’t like them at the time b) probably associated them with people i didnt like at the time c) their albums kind of suck, at least compared to this showâ€¦i almost felt guilty for liking it after years of haterism. not the best concert in the world, but pretty good generally and worth checking out.
tonight’s show is being webcast on NPR.