Let’s get the problems from the sold-out Sept. 19 show dealt with first. It may be a bit small, but the Casa del Popolo is a good place to see a show. . . in the winter.
I can’t begin to imagine what the place was like over the summer, but on this warm mid-September evening it was borderline unbearable.
This fact probably explains why, by the end of Spoon’s set, the once sold-out crowd was reduced to a couple of dozen, soppy die-hards desperately sucking the bottoms of their beers for some much needed refreshment.
The other problem, though not a damper on the evening by any means, was the sound problems experienced by Spoon and Vanderslice. Luckily opening band The Field Register dodged both bullets by playing before the room filled up and having a set that didn’t rely on the sound board as much as Spoon’s and Vanderslice’s sets did.
The Field Register’s slow-core, shoe-gazing meanderings were adequate but lacked the intimate intensity that is dominant in the genre.
San Francisco’s John Vanderslice took to the stage next with show stealing drummer Christopher McGuire and Dan Carr, who was pulling double duty playing bass and keyboard. Jeff Byrd worked the soundboard and contributed sound samples.
Vanderslice’s set was equally split between his 2001 offering, Time Travel is Lonely and his 2002 conceptual album, Life and Death of an American Fourtracker, recorded at Vanderslice’s own Tiny Telephone Recording studio on a Tascam Portastudio 424 four track recorder.
The show deftly combined melodic hooks alongside samples, as Vanderslice emotively sang about the alienating, yet ultimately rewarding process of recording music, evident on tracks like Me and My 424: “You know it’s the time/ so goodbye for now/ I crudely descend/ the stairway to defend/ me and my 424.”
Throughout the set, McGuire was doing his best to engage the crowd with several poses that wouldn’t be out of place in an 80’s metal hair band video.
Hanging around their van after the show, Vanderslice was more than accommodating to discussing how the tour was going. Although sad that this was one of the last shows headlining for Spoon, Vanderslice was visibly excited that they’re slotted to open for Washington D.C.’s The Dismemberment Plan for an eleven stop tour through the eastern United States.
Headliner Spoon, from Austin, Texas was everything that one could ask for in a rock/pop band. Spoon mixed Costello-esque melodies with pulsating keyboards and minimalist song structures, all presented underneath a strong, workmanlike vocal performance by Britt Daniel.
It took no time whatsoever for the set to find its legs with the opening keyboard notes of Small Stakes, immediately followed by an inspired version of Lines in the Suit off of last year’s critically acclaimed Girls Can Tell.
Spoon combined tracks from their most recent Kill the Moonlight disc, the previously mentioned Girls can Tell and stuck in a couple of songs from 1998’s A Series of Sneaks.
Spoon is forgiven for a lackluster encore performance as by that time, those still in attendance were totally satisfied and saturated