Spoon have been at it a long time, releasing indie gems since 1996 up to their most recent undertaking, the slightly spaced-out Hot Thoughts, for which they are currently touring. Spoon stopped at Salt Lake’s The Depot with a young group of lovable punks, White Reaper. The two bands were an odd match, their sounds only similar in volume and energy, but that was all that really mattered. I wondered how the aging crowd—there were as many silver foxes in attendance as young bucks—would dig the rapid, nonstop onslaught of something between MxPx and Misfits. Turns out that the older portion of the crowd wasn’t all that rickety beneath their Local H and Built to Spill T-shirts—they fared just fine. White Reaper showed everyone a great time and played their accessible, hour-long set with vigor. Their pedal-to-the-metal aesthetic was a great primer for the main act.
Spoon took the stage around 9:30 p.m., opening with a song from the new album: “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.” It was a smooth beginning, quiet to start and culminating with something I was expecting. I’ve loved frontman Britt Daniel for years with his unique vocals and clever guitar plucking. He’s always been able to bring it live—he can wail, and crowds love him. He didn’t disappoint at The Depot, and nor did his bandmates. Jim Eno is no slouch, either: His drumming is every bit as impressive as Daniel’s charismatic persona.
There was a stretch of four crowd favorites in the middle of the set that really engaged the whole place. There were people cutting a rug in the furthest corners of the venue while Spoon played “I Turn My Camera On,” “The Beast and the Dragon, Adored,” “Don’t You Evah” and “Do You” without a hard break between the songs. Even the light show, which was fabulous throughout, pushed the vibe from one track to the next, hitting the crowd squarely in the chest and making no bones about doing it.
That group of songs got everyone revved up, which, I guess, was a perfect time for an intermission. For the next several minutes, the band, sans the guy with the keyboard and the drum machines, left the stage, and all we got was ambient noise with ambient lights. When the band returned, they started up again just like they did to begin the whole performance: slowly, quietly building back to a steady pace.
As I mentioned, Spoon aren’t a new band. They’ve done a lot of things over the past couple of decades. They have performed a lot of shows, and Daniel spoke of them. He talked about doing two in a row at the same venue, something he said the band likes to avoid, and apologized to fans for doing it out of necessity. He also mentioned a show from long ago at which he got into a tussle on stage. He couldn’t remember the venue, but the loyal listeners, hanging onto all of his words, quickly jogged his memory, yelling to him that it was at the Zephyr Club. I hadn’t thought about the Zephyr Club for years, and it helped to put into perspective just how long Spoon has been something worth following.
Before the encore, the show ended with the title track from the latest album, which was well done and fitting. But as the crowd cheered, Daniel came back out alone and blew me away with a solid rendition of “I Summon You,” playing solo on his knees behind a fan that was making the whole thing that much more dramatic. It was great.
I think I can see why Spoon were touring with White Reaper. Their sound is different, but their origins are the same. Spoon have gotten older, and their production and preferences have changed, evolved. Their suits are pressed and tailored these days, but under the pleats and buttons, they are the same band I discovered who tore shit down and scuffled onstage. –Billy Swartzfager
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