I’m not sure that when I was in my roaring twenties I even had a weekend where I went to three shows. But here I am, at 30 something with a rock show a night this weekend. I had plans to see Death Cab for Cutie and Portishead, and then had an opportunity to finally see Built to Spill for the first time on Friday night, so I took it. Here’s a little about the first two shows this weekend, both featuring bands that hail from my adopted Northwest.
Built to Spill of Idaho played at the Moore theater, an old, on the edge of an overhaul theater that has a lot of character, but also seems to have a thin layer of grime on everything. Don’t get me wrong, I’m comfortable there, it’s a great place to see a show – a cave-like bar downstairs, good tight spot to contain the sound, that old school feel. Kind of what Built to Spill was like too. They felt like they had a bit of moss growing on their set. But, they didn’t let it hold them back from blowing the doors off that tiny theater. Never having seen them before, I was impressed by how hard these completely stoned out looking old guys could crunch those guitars and at the same time look like they were planted to the ground.
Built to Spill are one of those bands that have this huge intimidating catalog that I know I should have dug into long ago and would enjoy, but have been too lazy to do so. Wilco is the same way for me, I know I like them, the stuff I’ve heard is great, but they have such a vast catalog of good music, that it’s going to real time to appreciate. One of these days I’m going to put that time in, but the thought of it is daunting. So, I go into the BTS show knowing I’m going to miss out on enjoying a bunch of songs I don’t know, but it didn’t matter much. These guys have shoegazing guitar mastery to a t. They are such talented musicians and they’ve been on a mission to sustain their sound without adding any frivolity to it. Just a solid three-guitar wall of sound that knocks you over without any bombast coming from the band and all of it coming from the music.
As hard as BTS hits you, it was very short set, the show was over by 10:15 or so and there were two openers. They may be getting tired or saving the epic 2 – 3 hour sets for special nights. This didn’t seem to be one of the shows where they pulled out all the stops, but even without them, these guys bring the goods for anyone who is in need of an indie guitar god rock fix.
Saturday night brought a very different show and very different NW band to town with Death Cab closing out their tour at home at the Key Arena. The Key Arena is almost the opposite of the Moore theater, a medium-sized basketball arena that has little character and feels like it’s sprayed down with bleach every night. Death Cab is a similar band to Built to Spill in that their music hits you with an assault of sound, but while I wouldn’t say they are frivolous, they do put more polish and showmanship on top of their work. You get the feel that these are one of those bands that decided they would bring all the energy they have to each show. Springsteen-esque.
They brought their show to the big arena with the video screens, smoke, light show and such, but they didn’t let it distract. It’s the 2nd time I’ve seen them and they put on a great show, especially if you’re into them already. This was a rare show that my wife attended with me, and she’s not a huge DCFC fan, but had a great time and thought they entertained even if she didn’t know many of the songs. She especially liked it when they brought out a second small drum kit for Ben Gibbard to play and bring a new angle to a 5 minute sound scape they launched.
The show was a more corporate than the Built to Spill show, the crusty crowd at the BTS show was replaced with the upwardly mobile set (guilty as charged), but both groups had a great time. DCFC did make this a special set, playing all the songs you’d want them to play and played for almost 2 hours. They didn’t have that big pyrotechnic end that I’ve seen them have before. Which, while very 80s, was fun to see and seemed a perfect ending that DCFC had the guts to add to their little rock show. I was hoping for something big and special here this time, but their energy, musicianship and ownership of their place at the top of the corporate indie rock set was going to have to do. Would gladly go back and see them do it all again.
Now, on to Portishead. Their first tour in 14 years and a show I’ve been waiting to see ever since I first heard Dummy. I can’t wait…