Well What’d You Expect For A Monday?
Bobby McBride took it on his shoulders to review the Monday show by Built to Spill and two warm-up acts at Voxhall.
Mondays are my Fridays. I won’t bore you with why – but someone has to work weekends right? I was bored and weighing out whether I should catch this show or just stay in the garden until it got too cold and then watch Game Of Thrones. Being that I don’t actually care about incest (anymore) I pulled the pin on the show.
This was my second time seeing Built To Spill (“BTS” I used to call them – but that gets confusing these days now) and the last time I caught them, they were touring their anniversary performance of the seminal Perfect From Now On album. Now it was that record’s follow-up, and what any ageing hipster would call ‘underrated masterpiece’ Keep It Like A Secret’s turn for the victory lap. I practically thought this review would write itself – as last time, Doug Martsch & co performed a note-perfect and sequenced concert of the record. That was a few years ago when simply every band around had to play whole classic albums to get heads in the door. Tonight, we learned that Built To Spill would be shuffling things around a bit. I hate to spoil the rest of the review – but that’s what they did. Wow.
There were 2 support acts on the bill for this evening as well – and even though the show had an early start (20.00) it seemed like a bit much for a school night to ask a crowd to stick around for 2 warm-ups. Much of the crowd were absent for Orua, and after a few numbers into their set I was jealous. Orua (which were comprised of members of this current line-up of Built To Spill) played an un-energetic fuzzed out stoner-psych that relied heavily on very basic jams and lots of playing around with pedals. Not only was it unfortunately grating, boring and ear-numbingly shrill, but they played for nearly an hour. Much of the crowd retreated to the back bar to shout at each other. I was a little cranky that a support act would take up an hour – especially when they were the support act for the support act.
After a quick change over we were treated to the surprising highlight of the evening which was Toronto’s Slam Dunk. Their comical stage banter and general “fuck it” aloofness probably had something to do with the fact that Aarhus was the last stop for them on their (1st?) European tour. Not only did they carry on like charming clowns on the last day of the academy, but their performance was mind-blowingly energetic and upbeat. I’d only skimmed through their repertoire the morning of – but their blend of Indie, Garage, Punk and charisma broke the hex that the previous band had put on nearly everyone in the building. I would gladly go see these folks again at their own show if they dropped by. Imagine if Modest Mouse went Ramones or something.
The Crowd actually seemed to fill the house now as the headliners took the stage. As promised, the band played a shuffled version of Keep It Like A Secret. The set showcased Martsch’s masterful and unique indie guitar chops, and highlighted his very particular and still powerful way of singing and phrasing. If you closed your eyes – you could actually mistake yourself for being about 20 years in the past – as audio-wise, Martsch hasn’t aged a bit. Open your eyes however and you are surrounded by other attendees that are also probably closing their eyes and reliving some youth from 2 decades ago. Yes. This is a nostalgia trip.
Built To Spill has always been Doug Martsch and a revolving cast of backing musicians – so there is always a sense of freshness with each line-up playing the catalogue. This constellation however seemed to drag the operation down instead of uplifting it. Maybe it was an off night – but even Martsch seemed a bit sloppy and awkward at times. He had some guitar issues and zero banter except for “thanks”. At one point, he snapped a string and luckily the guitar player from Slam Dunk quickly replaced Martsch’s guitar – which received a roaring applause. I remember thinking – ‘wow, the show is pretty ho-hum when a guitar change gets an ovation’. I think because of the late hour now (we were running an hour over schedule), many of the casual crowd (and those with baby sitters to relieve) headed for the door and missed the best part of Built To Spill’s set: the encore.
In the main body of the concert BTS played the whole album, minus “Carry The Zero” – my personal fave. In their encore they seemed to gather a spring in their step and went ‘off book’ to dig deeper in their catalogue. They performed a very faithful version of The Kinks’ “Waterloo Sunset” (backed by Slam Dunk) and finished with “Carry The Zero” finally, completing their cycle and the night.
I was exhausted. Overall the night would have been more enjoyable for me without the set from Orua that went way over time, and could have been left out completely. Slam Dunk’s set really dug us out from the grave. Unfortunately, Built To Spill this night were a bit too stagnant for me to rave or drool over them. Still though – it was a Monday, I had some beers and got to see some great bands and say hi to a few familiar old faces. I still watched GoT and I still prefer a night of challenging indie-rock to watching two Danes fight over an English lassie.
Review: Bobby McBride
Photos: Steffen Jørgensen/Fonden Voxhall
Built To Spill setlist:
You Were Right
Center of the Universe
Three Years Ago Today
Kicked it in the Sun
Waterloo Sunset (The Kinks-cover)
Carry the Zero