Live Review: Spoon in Baltimore

There’s no doubt about it, Spoon has been around the block. Over the past decade the unlikely band of ragtag misfits from Austin, Texas, have made the slow and gradual transition from being Austin’s backyard heroes to America’s greatest underdogs. These elder statesmen of indie-rock have garnered a mass of critics and fans alike, released six full-length albums and have cultivated a sound that has catapulted the post-punk genre to an entirely different level.

Despite this, they have managed to stay behind the scenes, never quite crossing over into mainstream consciousness. Their recently released – and curiously titled – album “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” (Merge Records) is slated to change all of that, however.

Spoon’s act at Baltimore’s Sonar club last Friday night seemed to emphasize the ever-growing popularity of the 2007 album. With songs like “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” and “The Underdog,” Spoon rocked out to a sold-out crowd well into the wee hours of Saturday morning.

The concert marked the mid-point of Spoon’s eastern tour with rising stars the White Rabbits and the Walkmen, providing both the indie outfit and the crowd with an opportunity to become fully acquainted with the new album.

“Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” has been heralded as their greatest yet, mixing and refining their previous styles into one coherently reconstructed force. Christian Hoard of Rolling Stones magazine claimed that, “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga might be Spoon’s commercial breakthrough, doing for them what ‘Good News’ did for Modest Mouse.”

In an interview with Metromix, Britt Daniel, co-founder and brainchild of Spoon, remarked “Yeah, I feel like we’ve made it, but I might have a low standard for what making it means.”

The album bears more than just a breakthrough for Spoon, however, as it marks an entirely new direction for the band. “Don’t Make Me a Target” sporting such lines as “here come a man from the star, we don’t know why he goes so far,” “keep on marching along beating his drum clubs and sticks and bats and balls” and “For nuclear dicks with their dialect drawls that come from a parking lot town” serves as Spoon’s first blatantly political song.

Ambiguity didn’t stop the sold-out crowd of high school kids, rocker moms and googly-eyed college students from rocking out to the band’s cacophonous hits, with “I Turn My Camera On” being the most well-received song of the night. In fact, the band was so well received that constant chants of “We Want Spoon” brought the band back for a double encore.

Their concert demonstrated that Spoon has mastered the art of the small-time venue. Their music was finely tuned, their moves were well coordinated, and the show was executed to a ‘T.’ If anything, the lack of spontaneity and rawness often found in inexperienced bands actually added to what felt almost like a superficial performance. The elder statesmen were so well rehearsed it made things feel almost clinical and sterile. Whatever the case, “Ga” x 5 has proven that Spoon is here to stay.

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