Usually I'm the one at shows applauding in recognition as the band launches into an old favorite, but last night I was in the position of relative newcomer in an audience of die-hards at the Spoon show at Bowery Ballroom. Not only was the show sold-out, the crowd was the most loose and enthusiastic I'd seen in awhile. Definitely contrasted with the crowds at both Wire shows this past week, where the mood was positively reverent, and no one ventured to shout out any requests, which was surprising even though it was pretty clear they wouldn't have obliged. (Wire played the same set both Tuesday and Wednesday nights.)
But before I was even able to get into the club, I had to score a ticket first by some alternative means, since I had clearly underestimated Spoon's popularity. My friend Steve found a willing scalper just minutes before I arrived at Bowery (yeah!), so I was set. First up was The Natural History, half of whose performance I caught over the sound system in the downstairs bar before venturing upstairs for the remainder. A bit garage-y, post-punk-y... pretty good. Definitely a band to put in the mental shows file as they are local and will probably be playing out again soon.
Next was John Vanderslice, who I was looking forward to seeing after having caught his last NY-area show at Brownies (R.I.P.) this past May. This show was even better, as the entire band was in top form, including their manic drummer who provided a rat-a-tat beat and more head nods and shakes than the Muppet Show's Animal. (Speaking of which: I finally got a chance to see the video for "Keep Fishin'" by Weezer... clever, clever.)
While the club was not even half-full for both opening bands, people trickled in shortly before Spoon came on, filling up most of the floor easily. I scooted downstairs just as the band took the stage, opening with "Small Stakes," the first track off of their new album. It was one of a number of songs they played from Kill the Moonlight, which I've found myself skipping to more and more in my iPod. The only other Spoon song I'd heard, "Car Radio," they also played, so I was happy. Now I have to figure out which album from their back catalog to get next. Hmm...
The other two shows this past week were Wire, on Tuesday in Boston and Wednesday in New York. I caught opening band Oxes in Boston, but, as my show-going companion put it, at least "the fans of the band can tell each song apart." Maybe it was that all the songs were instrumentals, or maybe it was the extreme Sonic Youth damage (I was tempted to yell out "Silver Rocket"!), but I found myself spending more time scanning the crowd than paying attention to anything that was going on onstage.
Wire themselves were excellent, even if they did focus on mining the particular groove found on their two Read & Burn EPs, material from which exclusively filled their (too-short) main set. Even their two encores of Pink Flag-vintage material seemed to be chosen to fit the same aesthetic, as we were treated to the likes of "Lowdown" and "Pink Flag" instead of more obvious crowd pleasers from the same era -- say, "Ex-Lion Tamer" or "Dot Dash." As I didn't come into either show expecting to hear any of my favorites ("Map Reference 41N 93W" or just about anything off of 154), and I have been pleasantly surprised by comeback EP Read & Burn 01, I found more than enough to satisfy on both nights nonetheless.Posted by nstop at September 22, 2002 11:57 PM