[ATTENDED: October 8, 2016] Built to Spill
Fifteen years ago I saw Sigur Rós. A few days before that show I was supposed to see Built to Spill, but 9/11 happened and I skipped BtS. So here it is fifteen years later and I get to see Sigur Rós and BtS a few days apart once again. I also happened to see Built to Spill almost exactly one year ago today, so it was fun to do it all over again,.
This was my first time in the legendary Stone Pony. I was shocked by how small it was and how strangely laid out it is (quite wide and not very deep). I could have been within a few feet of the stage but when I varied I saw that even though the ticket said 7, BtS wasn’t going on until 10, so I scoured the venue and a saw a small riser to the back right. I went up there and stood in the front of it, effectively three feet above everyone. And I had a perfect view of the stage, so I stood there the whole time.
And boy am I glad. The floor scene was a madhouse. I was right above what was essentially the only way in and our once the club had gotten really packed. People were squeezing past this small opening all night long. And during the third song, a fight broke out–punches actually thrown!–because someone got in someone (both men of course) else’s way. I even beer or something thrown in my face. Stay classy, Asbury Park.
Unlike the previous show, BtS was only a three-piece. Last show I marveled at Doug Martsch including two other guitarists to share lead duties, but I loved the fullness of the sound. I wasn’t sure what I would think of the band as a three-piece (my friend Jay informed me of the trio set up a few hours before they went on, so at least I was prepared–although I was bummed that Jay couldn’t make the show).
I was a little unconvinced about the sound of the three-piece when the band started. But that turned out to be a mixing issue. The drums were too loud, the bassist was inaudible and then Doug was himself. But by the second song it was perfectly balanced and sounded amazing.
And once the sound was perfected, it came down to setlist. And that was amazing–this setlist was almost entirely different from my previous show.
The Union Transfer show had 16 songs. This show had 17 songs and 15 of them were different from last time (and the two duplicates were two of my favorites so that’s cool, too). What a great way to see the same band. And he played songs from just about every release. One from each of the first three albums, two from Perfect from Now On and three from Keep It Like a Secret (the album that I first discovered them). One each from the two albums that came out before the latest one and two from the latest. The only album ignored was Ancient Melodies of the Future. He also threw in two covers and what I assume are three new songs.
While the last show did not suffer from lack soloing or improv, this one seemed to allow Doug plenty of time to just wail on his guitar, play with his effects to make some cool noises and then repeat. The first real jam came on “The Plan,” one of my favorites, and he took that guitar solo for a good five minutes. He had all of his effects pedals on a table next to him and he turned knobs and sliders making the sound go in interesting directions. Then when he was satisfied, the solo continued.
I loved that he played such a great variety of songs, from short rockers to extended jams. We even got a song from The Normal Years compilation (“Joyride”). And the covers were interesting as well. I had never heard of CCR’s “Effigy”. I’m not a big fan of CCR, but this song was really interesting and fit with BtS really well (the opening melody even seemed to be a little unusual for CCR–although I hear now that Doug may have spiced it up a bit). And “Virginia Reel Around the Fountain” comes from his side project The Halo Benders–I know it from the Live album, so that was fun to hear (if he had done “Cortes the Killer” I would have probably passed out).
And while I say he, I mean the whole band, of course. The bassist and drummer (Jason Albertini and Steve Gere ) were fantastic. They played along with him in the five-piece as well. I loved the way Albertini kept the rest of the song interesting while Doug was soloing (especially true during “Goin’ Against Your Mind”). And Gere was dynamite–smashing things when called for but also using great restraint when necessary.
He ended the set with two songs from Perfect: “Else” (it was great seeing him to that fast guitar part) and “Carry the Zero” was amazing, with an extended solo that ended the set perfectly.
I wasn’t sure what songs he might do for an encore, but I couldn’t believe we got to hear “Randy Described Eternity”–another amazing song from Perfect. And then an extended, super jamming version of Goin’ Against Your Mind (which is wast he opened my other show with–full circle).
Doug doesn’t talk much–it’s not clear if he’s even enjoying himself–seeing his stone face while the crowd erupted into a mosh pit during “Goin’ Against Your Mind” was delightfully incongruous. But he (like last time) seemed pleased we were there and thanked us for coming.
It was another great show from Doug and the guys.
|2015, PA||2016, NJ|
|Goin’ Against Your Mind||All Our Songs|
|Distopian Dream Girl||Goin’ Thru (new?)
|Three Years Ago Today||The First Song|
|You Were Right||Joyride|
|Mess With Time||Some Other Song|
|Never Be The Same||Understood (new?)
|How Soon Is Now? (The Smiths)||Hindsight|
|Center of the Universe||Stop the Show|
|Pat||Effigy (Credence Clearwater Revival)|
|I Would Hurt a Fly||Alright (new?)
|Done||Virginia, Reel Around the Fountain (Halo Benders)|
|Carry the Zero||Else|
|encore||Carry the Zero|
|Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)||Randy Described Eternity|
|Goin’ Against Your Mind|