Spoon, Mercury, Thursday, March 15

Live Shots: South by Southwest 2001


Mercury, Thursday, March 15

Like bees, like flies, like fluorescent lamps, Spoon's SXSW 2001 showcase was the source of pure buzz. With the release of their first true indie album, the new Girls Can Tell on Merge, and the fact that it may be the local quartet's best album to date, Spoon would be out of their minds at this point to revive any previous major-label aspirations. Now, there's just the question of whether or not the band will get the attention and praise they so richly deserve. Kicking off a 55-minute set with "Change Your Life," Jim Eno and Britt Daniel took the band's two newest members along for a ride on the adoration train. As a veteran of Spoon shows for years, what strikes me about the latest model is how many audience members sing along, almost as if they're trying to will the band along to stardom. The showcase hit high points from all of Spoon's albums, save for the sparely visited Telephono, the band perched on the edge between playing all the right songs and leaving their ardent fans wanting slightly more. Spoon is obviously aiming for flawlessness. "Chips and Dips," the best song on the somber Love Ways EP, has been retooled for live play in a way that illustrates this aim. Though the song retains its off-balance drum break between the second chorus and verse three, formerly the song's finest moment, Daniel now tops it live with a taut, warbly, rush of guitar that's controlled, symphonic, and most of all, heartwrenchingly beautiful. A mere 15 hours later, during Merge's day party at Emo's, Spoon returned to their place on Earth among an upper echelon of up-and-coming pop bands, but on the night where they were so heavily buzzed about, they weren't only the best band in the festival, but the best band on the planet, the band that makes everyone sing along.

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