Live review: Spoon, Deerhunter @ the Ogden Theatre (Day 2) - Reverb

Live review: Spoon, Deerhunter @ the Ogden Theatre, Day 2

Is Spoon a band better seen than heard? They were on Wednesday night at the Ogden, despite their endearing, Beatlesesque persona. Photo by Michael McGrath.

Is Spoon a band better seen than heard? They were on Wednesday night at the Ogden, despite their endearing, Beatlesesque persona. Photo by Michael McGrath.

The last time I’d seen Spoon perform was at an eTown recording. In the onstage interview with Britt Daniel, someone asked him about the influences on what was then their newest album, “Gimme Fiction.” A very polite Britt Daniel replied, “Well, the Beatles. That’s pretty much where it begins and ends.” I remember muttering under my breath, “Well, duh.”

Fast-forward to a Wednesday night at the Ogden. At this sold-out show, there were moments when Daniel’s pitch was so John Lennon perfect, the geometric stage behind them so mod and ’60s, the pot smoke so thick, that one could almost imagine that it was the Beatles down there. A Bizarro Beatles that integrates Wolf Parade covers into their show, but nevertheless, the strong nostalgic pull of that time and place is impossible to ignore in Spoon’s sound and stage presence.

View a full photo gallery of this concert.

Opener Deerhunter was a little different story. Despite “Strange Lights,” a song that drew its bass line from a ’60s prom band (I mean this in a good way), Deerhunter’s set was decidedly modern, an example of noise wielded with virtuosic control. Bradford Cox’s lovely, often feminine voice was only outshone by bassist Josh Fauver’s insanely animated playing style. Fauver may be the only bassist who has ever inspired me to play air bass, deviating from the standard head-bob “bassist dance” to a guitar-hero workout.

After what seemed like the longest between-song break in Ogden history, the lights dimmed and Spoon, in all their tight jeans and mod-boot glory, appeared onstage. Lit by strings of Christmas lights, Spoon opened with “You Got Yr Cherry Bomb.” Within the first few guitar licks, the noticeably more mature all-ages crowd (who didn’t seem to impressed by Deerhunter) went nuts.

Despite a sound that stays rooted in nostalgia but spends significant time in the post-punk and shoegaze neighborhoods, Spoon is a pretty basic band to watch. Daniel wanders about the stage, Eric Harvey earnestly bangs away at his keyboard, and occasionally Jim Eno will toss a maraca into the audience. My sister noted that you could have spent the show facing the bar, and you wouldn’t have missed much onstage.

But as they skipped from song to song, it became clear that Spoon isn’t a band you go to see. It’s a band you go to hear. The Hammond organ was dead-on, never pitchy, vocals came through loud and (most importantly) clear. They focused on their recognizable songs, not too much on B-sides or new material.

In fact, Spoon’s set was much like the sets I’ve seen of bands that people forget are still touring together (like Styx and REO Speedwagon). They hit the hits, play like the crowd expects them to and give the fans who saw them at Stubb’s at SXSW, Spring Break ’99 a reason to leave the kids with a sitter and have a night out. Perhaps in Bizarro world, this is where the Beatles would have wound up.

View a full photo gallery of this concert.

Check out the review and photos from Spoon’s first night at the Ogden Theatre.

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Cassandra Schoon is a Denver freelance writer and regular Reverb contributor.

Michael McGrath is a Denver area photographer. His work is available at Twist and Shout Records. Visit his website.

  • Todd

    I went to the Spoon concert with a lot of enthusiasm as I am a big fan of their albums. What I enjoy about their sound was clean vocals, rhythmic beats and a polished sound. The concert was a disappointment on many levels.1. ENTHUSIASM. I know its standard procedure for rock bands to take the stage with a hint of pretentiousness. Spoon took stage with about as much enthusiasm as a hungover college student on a Monday morning. They mentioned it was the last night of their tour, and it showed. I haven't been to prior Spoon concerts but they had made little effort to get the crowd excited and spoke two sentences to the crowd the entire 2 hours they played.2. PLAYLIST. Spoon has been around for over 10 years. I'm sure they know the songs that their fans want to hear. If you're professional career is to entertain your fans. You should be damn sure to pick songs that don't put them to sleep AND if you seem them numb with boredom CHANGE UP YOUR PLAYLIST. There's no need to pick a less than stellar song when you have 7 released albums to choose from.3. SOUND QUALITY AND VOCALS. In my opinion a good artist should sound like their albums were recorded. If an artist can't do this it leads me to believe that their sound was manipulated in studio to have the effect it does. Artist who perform live as well as their albums: Rilo Kiley, Ratatat, Arctic Monkeys, etc. I hold partial blame to the audio mixers for making vocals so quiet and drums so loud. What makes Spoon albums so smooth sounding is very clear vocals and piano riffs. Those need to be audible and clear. They were not. I hate to be a party pooper but when the headlining band just gets a slightly higher crowd response then Deer Hunter there is something seriously lacking.