My, what a gorgeous evening! Tonight I met up with Julie1 tonight for a leisurely sidewalk dinner at the healthy Spring Street Natural -- yum! -- and then headed over to the Bowery Ballroom for the boys from Austin, Texas -- the band Spoon, whose music she had introduced to me a few years ago. We caught them previously in June 2005 at Webster Hall, so when tickets went on sale a week ago for this gig, we were eager to hear their new material at the best venue in town, the Bowery Ballroom.
We arrived in time to catch only the very end of the opening set by David Vandervelde. He and his bassist and drummer played fun, energetic, fuzzy music with a bluesy overtone that matched their scruffy My Name Is Earl-like appearance. He was enjoyable, but I seem to recall some of his lyrics being a wee bit juvenile. Something about "where I can get my c*ck sucked...where I can get my ass f*cked..." Hmmm...
Spoon, in contrast, are four guys, relatively clean-cut (I don't recall any facial hair), who play tightly written rhythmic songs that power forth with an upbeat tension. For almost an hour and a half, these guys led by Britt Daniel's vocals (which remind me at times of Elvis Costello's non-ballad punkier days, and as Julie pointed out, sometimes like Jeff Tweedy's raspy voice) kept the Monday night crowd bouncing. I don't know if Julie and I happened to be in the sweet spot of the floor about 15 feet from the stage, but never have I heard a better sound mix before at the Bowery, and it's usually pretty good.
Unimpressed by Vandervelde's dopey lyrics as mentioned above, I particularly liked these Spoon lyrics found in "Me and the Bean":
I'll bring you cover when you're cold
You'll bring me youth when I grow old
Everything about Spoon's performance was crisp, and they did not lose hold over the crowd when they debuted the new material. They charged through their set with minimal banter and didn't let up with the tempo. They were a group of great musicians who knew what they were doing, enjoyed it and did it with ease. An effortless performance, and I dug every urgent moment.