Spoon is one of the greatest, most underrated bands working today. The Austin art-rockers have been recording and performing music almost at a nonstop pace since 1994. That’s 23 years of putting out music. This would make any band either quit, or worse, put out mediocre albums full of songs replicating previous songs. However, Spoon has managed to not only stick around, but elevate their sound and style to new heights with each new release.
After 23 years, you better believe that these guys are absolute masters of the stage. Their live show is tight, succinct, and full of songs spanning every period of their long career. They also find time in their show to jam, get weird and experimental, and expand songs to become five-times larger than they are on record.
During a Monday night stop in Omaha, Spoon brought this near-perfection to the Sokol Auditorium and a room full of die-hard fans. In this small space, lead singer Britt Daniel and the rest of the band didn’t just play songs, they delivered an experience.
Opening with the vibsey “Pink Up,” Spoon errupted into the rocking “Rent I Pay.” They are capable of playing just one note, one riff, one drum beat, for everyone in the venue to know what song is coming. With “Don’t Make Me a Target,” everyone in the crowd caught along instantly and shouted every word as the music rained down from all angles. Intricately performed, every note was in its right place, every chord perfectly executed. Except it didn’t sound exactly like it did on the record, instead each song took on a fresh new life, and felt alive in the space.
“The Underdog,” naturally a fan-favorite and an exceedingly fun song performed live, was a revelation. Sans horns section for that amazing chorus, the song sounded even better than ever, and Daniel strutted coolly through the performance, singing it so uniquely, the words hung on his tongue as he delivered them to the singing crowd.
A clear highlight was the moment when a break in the show, filled with heavy synthesizor tinkering and building a wall of sound, seamlessly blended into Hot Thoughts standout “I Ain’t the One.” This song is easily one of Spoon’s more theatrical songs to date, and the performance last night was nothing short of a movie. Daniel sauntered around the stage belting out each note and screaming with his gravelly rustic voice into his microphone. In the background, mood lighting and heavy percussion by Jim Eno made the song feel enormous and powerful enough to knock down a building. The song gives off the feeling that you could run through walls only to fall to your knees at the alter.
Spoon cruised through 19 songs total in their set, including songs off newer records and old. There were surprises, like “Anything You Want” from early album Girls Can Tell. They closed with the infectious “Do I Have To Talk You Into It” leading right into “Got Nuffin” which left my ears ringing, yet begging for more.
Spoon is a legendary band that has made their careers with reliable performances of timeless-sounding rock music. Each album they make sounds just as fresh and inventive as the one before it, which is almost impossible to find in a rock band that’s been working for over 20 years.
Their latest album Hot Thoughts is out now on Matador Records