As fans converged upon The National last week to see Texas rock outfit Spoon, lines began to form around the corner of the block. Instead of Richmond’s pseudo-bohemian regulars, the audience was comprised of veteran fans- an older crowd engrossed with nostalgia. The band hadn’t been back to Richmond in seven years, and with a playful, but an uncoordinated attempt by the openers, expectations were high.
When I think of Spoon, several reservations come to mind. Romantic comedies, happily ever after, Paul Rudd. Would they simply play The Underdog on repeat? It’s fair to say that despite maintaining consistent commercial success, Spoon has struggled, more than most, in establishing their own sound. With a sound resonating with early 2000s contemporary rock, it’s easy to lose the group in the mix. At least that is what I thought of the band before the show.
You think you know a band until you see them live. Last Wednesday, Vocalist/Guitarist Britt Daniel and his crew executed a stellar performance from start to finish. Even after 19 years in a competitive market, Spoon doesn’t show any signs of slowing their ambition. While many bands begin their first steps towards complacency and fall into the reunion circuit, Spoon has continued to carve out its own sound, bouncing from previous endeavors with a live performance that is vicarious and all feel.
Even with a crowd as notoriously stiff as the head knobbing elites of Richmond, every song filled the air and chipped away at the stakes by our feet. While many acts usually try their hand at anecdotes between sets, drummer Jim Eno and bassist Rob Pope stretched each riff, stuffing the spaces between line breaks, yet stopping on a dime with near perfection.
Their performance is parallel to their newest release, Hot Thoughts, Spoon’s ninth album, another stellar mark to the band in full stride despite their 19-year reign over the rock world, this time combining the influences of funky electronics and new wave antics, ditching the guitar for keyboard galore and a tempo that Martha Reeves could appreciate.
Their success a testament to their work ethic, their public image- relatively low-key. While rockstars parade the corners of their bandstand, Spoon is electrified yet channeled, Daniel scans the crowd with reciprocity, each line an exchange for their diligence. And to think, my previous concern writing this piece was how to play up a one-hit wonder. You think you know a band until you see them live.
Music Sponsored By Graduate Richmond
Photos By: John Donegan