It goes without saying that there’s something exceptional about a band that’s been in the game for so long and still preserves a knack for consistency and relevance. In the case of Spoon, “in the game” translates to eight full length releases over the span of two decades, six singles peaking in the top 50 of US rock charts, music placement in over a dozen movies and television shows, and international tours galore.
I imagine the band’s consistent success being attributed to the unique duality of their music. It has a classic rock ‘n’ roll feel to it and is poppy enough to reel in droves of both young and old. Spoon is like the quiet cool kid you knew from high school — somehow noticed by few and everyone at the same time — who undeniably wore his heart on his sleeve but disguised that sensitivity with a gritty attitude and an ultra-sleek aesthetic.
Frontman Britt Daniel’s signature high-pitched raspiness has all the support it needs from drummer Jim Eno, guitarist/keyboardist Alex Fischel, keyboardist Eric Harvey, and bassist Rob Pope, who transform the band’s sound into new dimensions. Sure, these guys write some of the catchiest rock songs out there. But there’s this sense of professionalism behind it all. It’s minimalistic, concise, and very well textured. They are the poppiest you can get without feeling the slightest bit contrived or insincere.
Choosing a set list from over 22 years worth of songs doesn’t seem to be an easy feat, but the band played a healthy mix of new and old at Canalside, including the show closing, mega hit “Underdog,” the oh-so-slinky “I Turn My Camera On,” and the clap-inducing “Do You” off its latest release, They Want My Soul.
A unifying energy swept across the audience, one that felt as enormous as the band’s sound. Unbeknownst to many, there is a certain closeness that Spoon shares to our area, specifically Fredonia, NY. The band spent a chunk of time recording at Fredonia based producer Dave Fridmann’s studio (MGMT, The Flaming Lips, Sparklehorse) in the thick of winter. The group compared this experience to the Jack Nicholson movie The Shining in a KEXP live session, but something tells me Daniels and crew have just as big a soft spot for Western New York as we do for them.
There was a moment toward the end of the show where Britt peered out at the deluge of people and said, “Buffalo, this is by far the best crowd we’ve had on this tour. I wish it didn’t have to end after this.”
This is something every big artist that rolls through says. Such a statement feels obligatory and almost hollow most of the time. But there was an unspoken yet very tangible appreciation between the crowd and all five band members. Whether the statement was totally true or not didn’t seem to matter — it was too hard to not believe him.