Monday night, Spoon and A Giant Dog played to a completely packed room at the Depot, and it was awesome. I think it’s a testament to the consistent quality of what Spoon puts out that they can pack a venue as large as The Depot in Salt Lake City on a Monday night. I’ve seen plenty of bands that I love play there during the week, and have rarely seen the room so full. Though, I never feel quite so claustrophobic at a show as when I’m surrounded by a couple hundred sweaty people who are stoked out of their mind about what is about to happen. If you browse the Twilight Concert Series Facebook page, you should be able to find dozens of people complaining about how they’d love to attend one show or another, but won’t because they hate the obnoxious crowd. Personally, being in a massive crowd that, for the most part, isn’t paying attention hasn’t ever bothered me. However, for reasons that I can’t quite pin down, being surrounded by a dozen or so dudes howling in excitement after every song kinda creeps me out.
A Giant Dog unceremoniously wandered on stage around 9 p.m., as opening bands are prone to do, and their singer kind of awkwardly talked to the crowd about how she had cousins who were there, while the rest of the band made sure they were all tuned up. Seems like everyone has a connection to Salt Lake City, the bassist from Spoon also later announced that he was born here, only to move away immediately. Once we’d all finished introductions the band launched into a heavy garage rock number that would define the sound of the rest of their set. These guys play loud, fast and frantic punk rock that kind of sounds like if locals Baby Ghosts had a baby with a psychobilly band like The Cramps.
A few times during A Giant Dog’s set I was reminded a little bit of Pretty Girls Make Graves, but that might just be due to the whole female-fronted punk band thing. Compared to the staunch professionalism of Spoon, these guys were pretty rough around the edges with their punk aesthetic. I’m pretty sure at least a couple of the band members were pretty high, and their bassist was sporting some wicked awesome chops. It’s pretty rare to go to an indie rock show with an opening band this punk-as-fuck, and I think this next little interaction toward of the end of the set summed up the whole experience for me. Just before one of their last songs, their singer announced, “This song is called, ‘I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead!’” to which a nearby member of the audience limply shout-mumbled, “Woo! Yeah, punk rock….” A Giant Dog are great for sure, and Britt Daniel mentioned how they are one of his favorite bands from Austin, but them opening for Spoon felt a little out of place to me.
Between bands there was some pretty ominous music filling the venue, which I can only imagine was hand-selected by Spoon because it didn’t change at all while their stage crew was setting everything up. I appreciated it, though, because it set up a great contrast between the frantic energy of A Giant Dog on one side, and the fun, tight, rock of Spoon on the other. When the band was finally ready to come out the lights dimmed and a long droning synth tone started playing and kept going for what was probably a good 90 seconds before the band walked on stage, waving at the crowd. They immediately launched into “Rainy Taxi” from their newest record They Want My Soul. I don’t think I’ve seen a crowd lose it as much as I did that night, though that might just be because I’ve never seen One Direction live. From the first track, it seemed like everyone around me was going apeshit, with good reason I think.
Before the show started, I got to chat with Spoon’s merch guy for a couple of minutes. I didn’t catch his name, but the guy seemed genuinely stoked to be on tour with them again after a 4-year break from playing shows after their last album. No doubt Spoon makes solid tunes, but according to this guy they’re also all really down-to-earth people who are awesome to hang out with, and I think that showed throughout their set.
Spoon played one hit after another that night, (almost) every single song was the best one they played, and they were unimaginably tight the entire time. This was my first chance to see Spoon live, and even though I knew that they were a tight band just based on their records, I didn’t think they’d manage to be as effortlessly on point and professional as they were. It seemed like every hit was right on, and the entire band seemed like they were having a lot of fun the entire time. Britt Daniel would often set aside his guitar, pick up the mic, and wander to the front of the stage to interact with the crowd and pass out handshakes. I’m sure that’s more than any rabid One Direction fan could ever hope for.
Toward the end of their set, Daniel lamented that it’d been so long since they’d been to Salt Lake, and promised that they would try to make it back sooner next time, after the crowd jeered him for saying they’d see us in another four. I know I’ll be there.