This originally appeared here on the Ticket Files blog for the Eugene Register-Guard

Spoon has a sizable Portland following, and on Friday night at the Crystal Ballroom, they played for a full house of devoted fans. Like the Vampire Weekend show I saw the night before, this performance was part of the 94.7 FM December to Remember concert series. Although this was my first Spoon experience, it wasn’t all that memorable.

I’ve only ever been a selective Spoon listener, picking out a few tracks at a time and never replaying an album in its entirety. It was clear that I was in the minority Friday night, although the crowd was shockingly lifeless for much of the show. I could tell that these were longtime Spoon fans, but with the exception of their best pop tunes, there were only subtle head bops from the crowd of predominately 30-something guys.

Whether you are a Spoon fan or not, front man Britt Daniel’s star presence is undeniable.


It has no doubt been the key to this Austin band’s remarkable success. Though they are on the brink of releasing their seventh album (“Transference,” due in January), you know a Spoon song when you hear one. Jim Eno’s drums and Eric Harvey’s keyboard pound an incessant and often syncopated beat, and ragged guitar strums play against Daniel’s insistent and textured cries.

“You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” was the first highlight of the show. The song is a layered, Motown-seasoned pop song, Spoon style. The tambourine beat, peppy keyboard, and addition of two guys on saxophone and one on horn make it one of the band’s best live songs. They had enough special effects going on throughout the show that they sound a bit like the indie-rock version of U2, although Daniel resembles more of a Brit-rocker from the ‘60s.

“Written in Reverse,” from upcoming album “Transference,” is a solid song that combines the best elements from the band’s extensive catalog, though the sound isn’t exactly new. “The Underdog,” “I Summon You,” and “The Way We Get By” played well live and are the best examples of Spoon at its finest. Too many songs in between descended into what can only be described as chaotic noise. Though they like to think they are a rock band, Spoon’s best songs are really just well written pop tracks with a bit of edge.

The ultimate highlight of the night was “I Turn My Camera On,” the insanely catchy and beat-heavy wild card from “Gimme Fiction.” Oddly enough, this song varies from the predetermined Spoon sound more than any other. Daniel’s falsetto and the rock star strut of his guitar come together to create Spoon’s most danceable and enchanting masterpiece. It was hard to tell if the band recognized the beauty of this song when they threw it in early in the show and between cluttered attempts at rock ‘n’ roll.

If you are a Spoon fan, you will probably always be a Spoon fan. Me, I’m not there yet. If they keep playing shows like this one, I’m afraid they may not attract many newcomers. Although judging by the show and the sold-out audience, they might be just fine with that.

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