April 6: Spoon, Deerhunter, Micachu and the Shapes
When bands play back-to-back concerts, you can't ever be completely sure what you'll get for the second show. Will they be worn out from the night before, and all the requisite partying? Will they be as tight or tighter musically? Will they want to blow your mind before they blow out of town? The good news is that with Spoon, Deerhunter and Micachu and the Shapes a great show is just about a guarantee. Last night's shindig at the Ogden was laden with powerfully awesome performances and did nothing but exceed expectations for nearly 4 hours. Often, a Tuesday night show will play out by 11pm or even a little earlier, this is Denver after all, but the spectacular line up rocked nearly into Wednesday with showmanship, intensity and staggering musicianship.
Micachu and the Shapes opened the proceedings with their divine mix of experimental pop and grime. A performance littered with crashing drums and howling vocals that set an artistic tone for a show that was no doubt populated primarily with Spoon fans expecting some straight up indie rock. This was my first exposure to Micachu, but it definitely won't be my last. Mica Levi's attention to composition, mood and tone are nothing short of incredible. I won't pretend, after several orange vodka shots and a couple of beers, that I absorbed the specifics of the music, but each song felt like a complex art project, built by transitioning between standard song formats and broken, minimalist styles. The performance had me so psyched to pick up an album that I sought the merch table, but a little too late. They had packed up during Deerhunter's performance, but I will seek them out and perhaps drop some knowledge pellets in this space in the future.
Deerhunter was raucous, grinding and exceptional. They played album-perfect versions of "Agoraphobia" and "Never Stops" from 2008's Microcastle that were impossible to ignore. Bradford Cox belted lyrics with ease in his trademark vulnerable, but full style. And while the music was great, the stage presence and audience interaction was pure icing. Cox, after playing a brief and ill-fated cover of Soundgarden's "Spoon Man," attempted to rile the audience into a vocal vote as to whether Chris Cornell's vocal style rivals Eddie Vedder and others in its baritone-warbling way (what Cox called being a "yarbler"). The audience voted by decibels and shockingly, voted that Cornell was not a member of that semi-pejoratively-referenced group. When the vote came out, only slightly in Cornell's favor, Cox appeared shocked and a woman in the audience yelled up at him, "Suck it!" To which Cox quickly and wittily replied, "Suck what? Your giant, distended clitoris?" Then Deerhunter blazed into their final song. Yes, folks, it was that kind of rock show. And we hadn't even seen the opener yet.
Last night was the third time I had seen Spoon live. Ever since I picked up Kill The Moonlight I was hooked. Since I still have mixed feelings about this year's Transference, I was a little weary that the show might be heavily weighted to the new album, but with a catalog as large as theirs Spoon was able to pull out most of the old hits. "Underdog," "The Beast And Dragon, Adored" and "Me And The Bean" found their way into the main set, and the encore featured "The Way We Get By" and "Small Stakes." But, Britt and the guys played a little from every album, and a lot of songs I hadn't heard live in performances past. The highlight, for me, came through a cover. Much like St. Vincent's excellent cover of Nico's "These Days" at her show in February, Spoon busted out an honest, true to original version Wolf Parade's "Modern World." Definitely unexpected, considering how recently Wolf Parade wrote and recorded the original, but Spoon put their own stamp on it while never teetering into parody. The trend of tossing one cover into a set shows a connection to the rest of music and reverence of other artists. With indie bands especially, the camaraderie between groups is extremely important. It makes shows better, leads to incredible onstage compilations and merges of styles and maintains that feeling that all of us, listening, buying this music, loving these bands on the fringe or near it are part of a large musical family. Another fantastic Ogden show.
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