SXSW Music Live: Spoon Nite 1

ATX brand grooves like Prince

By the time Tuesday evening’s line to get into the Main – rebranded Eno’s through Thursday in honor of its former incarnation as Emo’s and Spoon drummer Jim Eno – allowed entry, Austin’s Bright Light Social Hour were neck-deep in the lysergic emanations of the Beatles’ Tibetan Book of the Dead rewrite, “Tomorrow Never Knows.”

Spoon (Photo by David Brendan Hall)

Their final song, an original, so resembled Bad Company’s self-titled anthem, one expected Paul Rogers to come in on cue. Still, a better psychedelic stew would be hard to find in a modern-day Austin awash with neo-psych bands.

A Giant Dog couldn’t help but wrap the crowd around its collective pinky with clever punk rock and Sabrina Ellis’ off-kilter charisma. Strutting onstage in a red one-piece, hooded leotard and cowboy boots to recent LP Pile’s opening blast, “Creep,” the singer looked like Little Red Riding Stripper. She later parodied her live penchant for shock by reading a letter supposedly from Spoon’s management begging her not to piss the stage.

Playing selections from across their three-LP catalog but focusing mostly on Pile, the canines hammered like one giant rhythm guitar and snare drum locked in step, Graham Low’s thick bass ruling. A Giant Dog rocks like the Damned, yet evince Sparks-like quirk, especially when whipping out a blazing rendition of the latter’s techno-pop hit “Angst in Your Pants.” Hear it on their next LP, due on Merge Records in August.

After surprise special guests the New Pornographers laid out a brief set of bright, sunny, New Wave-y pop, indie queen Neko Case hiding behind a keyboard, the evening’s hosts finally appeared.

Playing mostly deep cuts and previewing four tunes from the new Hot Thoughts, the Nineties-born Austin phenomenon demonstrated there isn’t really a Spoon sound per se. Many songs, such as the new album’s title cut, rode slinky sex-funk grooves like Prince is the only artist that matters. Some tunes took on an angsty sheen that suggests Britt Daniel owns many a Cure album.

Mostly, the group relied on Eno’s Ringo-Bonham drum smashing, guitars used in atypical fashion, bursts of atonality including free jazz dissonant keyboard cluster chords, and just an overall guiding musical intelligence. They were treated like conquering heroes by the crowd, and deservedly so. Spoon remains the most individualistic unit indie Austin has to offer.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Spoon's <i>Hot Thoughts</i> Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Spoon's Hot Thoughts Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Britt Daniel and Jim Eno talk about the rise of R&B in the band's sound

Tim Stegall, June 2, 2017

Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Final love / hate SXSW listicles

Kevin Curtin, March 24, 2017

More by Tim Stegall
This Changes Everything: Austin Witnesses to Sex Pistols' Chaotic Randy's Rodeo Show Go Home and Start Bands
This Changes Everything: Austin Witnesses to Sex Pistols' Chaotic Randy's Rodeo Show Go Home and Start Bands
UK instigators blow the roof off San Antonio dance hall in Chapter 4, Part 2, of the "Austin Punk Chronicles"

Jan. 7, 2022

Austin Punk Chronicles:
Austin Punk Chronicles: "I Don't Think the Sex Pistols Inspired Anything Other Than a Buncha More Punk Bands!"
The San Antonio shootout ricochets locally in Chapter 4

Dec. 31, 2021


Spoon, SXSW, SXSW Music 2017, Bright Light Social Hour, A Giant Dog, Sabrina Ellis, Neko Case, New Pornographers, Britt Daniel, Jim Eno, Bad Company, Prince

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle