Spoon Forks SXSW
Justin Smith
staff writer
March 23, 2006
Spoon on Amazon:
Gimme Fiction Gimme Fiction
May 10, 2005
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August 20, 2002
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Girls Can Tell Girls Can Tell
February 20, 2001
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A Series of Sneaks [US Bonus Tracks] A Series of Sneaks [US Bonus Tracks]
June 4, 2002
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Love Ways Love Ways
October 24, 2000
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Variety has never been Spoon's strong point. Around the time of Girls Can Tell Britt Daniel stumbled onto an intreresting and undeniably effective formula, and he's stuck with it ever since. As a songwriter Daniels' has always gone out of his way to avoid obvious anthemic choruses, instead preferring to focus on subversive melodies that stick sideways in your brain. The band makes angular, craggy pop music that you initally don't think has anything catchy about it; days later, you find yourself humming Daniels' sneakily memorable hooks.

Fresh off being named Austin's Band of the Year and an induction into the Austin Music Hall of Fame, Spoon's free show at Auditorium Shores during South by Southwest was a clearly telegraphed Thank You Note to the city that has supported the band from its inception. An uncharacteristically vocal Austin crowd bgreeted the band as it tore into the opening salvo from new release Gimme Fiction, "The Beast and Dragon Adored." Daniels was clearly just warming up, but nonethless he and the audience reveled in the atonal skronk of the brief guitar breaks.

The Blue Eyed Soul museum-funk of "I Turn My Camera On" hints at brilliance on record, but for some reason Daniels chose to abandon the falsetto and sing the entire tune in his normal octave. The bassist's needless notes ruined the song's minimalism, and when coupled with Britt's choice to sing an octave lower the performance of the tune fell apart for me. It was one of the biggest disappointments of the set, and the mood clearly permeated the audience.

A new song, for which we were given no title, was strong. The chorus was a sidelong glance at pop accessibility, a brief seance for The Monkees, but the feedback 'n funk of the verses assured us it was still Spoon on stage. When Daniels put his guitar down to manhandle the microphone during "The Way We Get By" it was clear that from now on he needs to hand guitar duties to someone new: he's twice as charismatic when he can focus on the audience.

The otherwordly echo of "My Mathematical Mind" closed the set. Britt's vocals bounced off of downtown Austin's high rises as he sang "I'm gonna stop riding the brakes," but throughout the show I couldn't shake the feeling that "riding the brakes" was exactly what he was doing. For reasons unexplained the whole band seemed to be holding back, and the show sufferred overall as a result.

[RMR]