As a band, Built to Spill is older than I am, but their music is fresher than ever. On Monday night, the band played a sold-out show at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club to a crowd of die-hard fans.
After the opening act and fellow Northwest indie rockers Braided Waves finished their one-hour set, Built to Spill stormed the stage at 10 p.m. The group is touring in anticipation of their upcoming album, Untethered Moon, which will be the band’s first record in six years. But you wouldn’t guess that the band has been MIA by the crowd’s reaction. Although not everyone sang along, nearly all abandoned SOhO’s beloved bar in favor of the dance floor.
Both the band and the audience were hot off the Coachella train, and that festival mentality manifested itself in the night’s performance: long jams, groovy riffs, powerful vocals, and, from the attendees, lots of stylish hats, which was a little weird, given that this show was indoors at night. Nevertheless, the vibe from both the band and their fans was much more relaxed than anything you would get at a music festival.
After each song, Built to Spill lead singer/guitarist Doug Martsch said a quick “Thank you” to the audience — there were a lot of thank-yous, given the plethora of songs the group performed. Rather than focusing exclusively on promoting their upcoming album, the band played a wide variety of tunes from their extensive repertoire, giving extra attention to fan favorites like “Liar” and “Distopian Dream Girl.” And when they worked in the new single “Living Zoo” off their upcoming album, the crowd was just as happy to dance along. The song’s catchy riffs bounced off the venues walls, courtesy of some well-chosen effects pedals. The mixing was excellent. This is a band that sounds far better live than they do on record — live, the music feels not only more emotive, but more power-driven and raw.
Arguably the best performance of the night was a cover of Michael Hurley’s incredibly obscure and hilariously amazing track “Slurf Song.” If the band’s future work is as spunky-riff-heavy — or if it also mentions spaghetti — count me in. If not, this show was a decidedly promising look toward the band’s future, and a nod to the band’s illustrious legacy.