Spoon: Far From the Underdog
By Cory Weaver
Spending more than a decade in the indie-rock limelight, Spoon has dodged and juked critics’ attempts to throw haymakers at the band with comparisons of “who they sound like.” They returned these would-be blows with a counterpunch of their own: they’ve done things their way, and they’re that band that other indie bands wish they were.
After making a pit stop in St. Louis last year for LouFest, the Austin quintet journeyed back for their first headlining tour stop here in nearly four years. They proceeded to righteously flood the Pageant with their style of raw, edgy, psychedelic rock.
The set opened with newest member, Gerardo Larios, venturing onto the dark stage alone. Larios climbed behind the keys and gave an intoxicating harmonic rhythm improv intro to “Do I Have to Talk You Into It.”
By opening with one of their biggest singles off their current album, Hot Thoughts, Spoon set the tone for the evening: they weren't messin’ around. Without hesitation, they segued into “Inside Out” off 2015’s They Want My Soul, followed by “I Turn My Camera On” from 2005’s Gimme Fiction. This has been the standard three-song intro for most of their 2017-2018 shows.
Pleasant surprises included rarely played tunes like “Knock, Knock, Knock” (They Want My Soul) and “Trouble Comes Running” (Transference), which filled out the required throwback segment of the set.
photo: Cory Weaver • Click for more images
“Do You” and “Hot Thoughts” sandwiched another keyboard solo by Larios, but this time it was an organ-heavy interlude that entranced the audience. They followed with “I Ain’t the One,” another gem from Hot Thoughts.
Spoon continued to rattle off hit after hit from their songbook, including “Can I Sit Next to You,” “My Mathematical Mind,” “The Underdog,” and finished the set with “Got Nuffin.” A bit of melancholy settled in at that point—the audience knew there was going to be an encore, but wanted more before the band started their cutting-the-cord finale.
The encore began with “I Summon You,” which just iced the cake on an already great evening of music. It’s a quintessential Spoon track that sucks you into their gravitational musical pull. That was followed by “Metal Detektor,” a 17-year-old tune that has only been played twice in 2018. It was sort of a trip to hear 2018 Britt Daniel sing it when most in the crowd had only heard it on a studio album.
“You’ve Got Yr Cherry Bomb” and “Rent I Pay” finished off the evening. Ending a set with those two songs made it really hard to head for the exit. A few notable omissions were “Small Stakes,” “Anything You Want,” “Don’t You Evah” and “The Way We Get By.”
Hopefully, with a near-capacity crowd and a reestablished connection with St. Louis (Daniel mentioned that the band had enjoyed their stay, eating barbecue three times and going bowling) and their fans, it won’t be four years before Spoon is here headlining again.