In what I can only describe as one of the best live shows I’ve seen in close to a decade, Built to Spill rocked the Spaceland Ballroom and its capacity crowd for close to 2 hours. There were zero light changes, no smoke machines, no projections or giant L.E.D. video walls, just a bunch of bearded, balding, pot bellied rockers from Idaho, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. Doug Martsch, Brett Netson, and unsung hero Jim Roth, perhaps revitalized by an infusion of new blood with Steve Gere on drums and Jason Albertini on Bass, had the energy and enthusiasm of a young unsigned band out to prove their worth.
I’ve often read how veteran bands really dislike playing big music festivals and generally accept the invitation only because of the guaranteed money for playing a single show. The last time I saw Built to Spill was in 2008 at the All Tomorrow’s Party festival in upstate New York. It was opening night on the main stage in front of thousands of eager indie rock fans and headliners Built to Spill played Perfect From Now On from start to finish. Amazing right? Wrong. What was amazing was how lackluster and uninspired their performance was. As such, my expectations were relatively low on November 5th, especially given our quaint little Connecticut venue. Once again I was surprised, only this time, pleasantly.
Built to Spill opened the evening with an excellent “new” song (at least a cut not on any record yet) entitled Living Zoo and it only just kept getting better from there. Ranging from the undulating Goin’ Against Your Mind to the introspective Untrustable Part 2 (About Someone Else) to the moody and melodic Kicked It In The Sun, each successive track whipped the crowd into more and more of a frenzy. But they didn’t stop there, firing us up with classics like Joy Ride, The First Song, and Carry The Zero. And as if that weren’t enough for an epic return to form, Martsch and co took the stage after the crowd chanted en masse “One more song…one more song…” for a 4 song encore that spanned 4 decades. They began in 1994 with Big Dipper off of the beloved There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. Brett Netson then shed his guitar for a bass to lay down one of the danciest bass lines ever while covering New Order’s 1983 hit Age of Consent off of Power, Corruption & Lies. Driving us back into 1994, Built to Spill won the hearts and minds of any true fan with Car, and then it all came crashing down into chaos. For 15 insane minutes, and with Brett Netson on lead vocals, the band transported us all back to 1968 with The Velvet Underground’s graphic and debaucherous Sister Ray. It was indeed a fitting tribute to the recently departed Lou Reed and certainly the closest I will ever come to seeing the Velvet Underground live.
Needless to say it was an evening to remember and one I won’t soon forget.
1. Living Zoo
2. Goin’ Against Your Mind
4. Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)
5. Jokerman (Bob Dylan cover)
6. Mess With Time
9. They Got Away
11. Kicked It in the Sun
12. The First Song
13. Carry the Zero
14. Wherever You Go
15. Big Dipper
16. Age of Consent (New Order cover)
18. Sister Ray (The Velvet Underground cover)