Posted in music | pictures on March 27, 2010

by Benjamin Lozovsky

Spoon

Spoon has made a long and fruitful career out of simultaneously fulfilling and denying the expectations of fans, critics and record labels. On Friday night (3/26), the band greatly exceeded its own expectations by headlining a sold-out Radio City Music Hall.

It was a big deal for a band that's taken small but inquisitive steps over 16 years and 7 records. This show came in support of their latest effort, Transference, a moody yet powerful record of micro-experimentation that ultimately saw the band reinvigorating their inner scruffiness (they celebrated the release of that record by playing a much smaller NYC venue in January). But unlike some recent tour dates which saw Transference heavy setlists, on this night Spoon played a well curated sampling of many of their past gems; it felt like a therapeutic nod to history for a band eager to revisit the moments that brought them this far.

But it wasn't just looking back for the fuzzy feeling of nostalgia. Britt Daniel and co. breathed new sophisticated life into songs like "I Summon You" and "Someone Something." The latter was sung as a duet with Eleanor Friedberger of the Fiery Furnaces, one of several guests (Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade and Stephen Patterson of White Rabbits) who appeared during the show. Dan and Eleanor performed one of their own songs with the group as well as assisting on Spoon numbers, as the headliner graciously and generously dolloped the trademark Spoon appliqué onto numbers like "Waiting To Know You" and "Modern World."

Radio City Music Hall is often a tough sell for rock fans, and Friday was no exception. It wasn't until midway through Spoon's first set, when the band was augmented by a seven piece horn section for numbers like "Don't You Evah" from their brass heavy 2007 album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, that the crowd finally took notice of the scorching effort brought forth by the band members and joined in on the revelry of this potential poster child for indie rock perseverance affixing its name to such an illustrious marquee.

Attempting to warm up the crowd were lively but somewhat underdeveloped The Strange Boys (sans new member Jenna Thornhill-DeWitt) and Deerhunter. Many attendants preferred to mingle in the gold-plated lobby of Radio City rather than check out the openers, but neither band did everything they could to completely win over the crowd either. Deerhunter didn't outright disappoint, but they didn't sound as impactful as normal. For the majority of their performance, the powerful streams of noise normally associated with the band were muted in the large hall. Instead the bare trappings of their songwriting were exposed, which might have been an interesting contrast for a frequent listener, but to the uninitiated came across as listless and at times sluggish. When Bradford Cox and his bandmates played to their more expansive and propulsive leanings though, things improved. They finally turned up the volume and intensity in the finale which was topped off with a long cacophonously exciting outro. Then they seemed to be having fun as eccentric noise makers in such a staid arena.

Still neither of the younger bands could match the passion of the older Spoon, who now might be considered elder statesmen of the genre they often like to eschew connections with. Daniel has an ageless croon, even if it faltered occasionally Friday. One couldn't help but feel Spoon could go on forever taking small steps at musical progression and growth. As a performance though, this was one giant leap.

More tour dates HERE. The full Radio City setlist with more pictures and some videos, below...

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Strange Boys

Spoon

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Deerhunter

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

Spoon

setlist (via)
1. Me and the Bean (Britt Solo)
2. The Mystery Zone
3. Written In Reverse
4. Got Nuffin
5. My Mathematical Mind
6. Don't Make Me a Target
7. Ghost Of You Lingers
8. Love Song (The Damned Cover)
9. Is Love Forever?
10. Waiting To Know You (Fiery Furnaces Cover w/Eleanor Friedberger of the FF)
11. Someone Something (w/ Eleanor Friedberger of the FF)
12. Beast and Dragon Adored
13. Don't You Evah
14. I Summon You
15. Nobody Gets Me But You
16. You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb
17. Rhythm & Soul
18. Jonathon Fisk
19. The Underdog
20. Black Like Me

Encore 1:
21. Trouble Comes Running
22. Modern World (Wolf Parade Cover w/ Dan Boeckner of Wolf Parade)
23. I Saw The Light (Dan Boeckner on guitar)

Encore 2:
24. Small Stakes

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Comments (57)

great show

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 6:29 PM

Benjamin...consider the nail hit on the head. BTW...your writing has become allot less turgid and concurrently more pungent.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 6:38 PM

pungent is not a great choice to use. concise or poignant. i always associate pungent with a negative connotation.


great review/photos. anyone know if deerhunter played new songs? didnt recognize the first two

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 6:47 PM

the second one was hazel st. from cryptograms. pretty sure the first was new

Posted by Ben | March 27, 2010 6:58 PM

I didn't recognize about a 1/3 of Deerhunter's setlist and I'm familiar with most of their catalouge... I'm assuming they were trying out new material Their opener was the highlight of the set... Can't wait to hear studio version of that song... The dedication to Alex Chilton was quite cool as well

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 7:04 PM

" Deerhunter didn't outright disappoint, but they didn't sound as impactful as normal. For the majority of their performance, the powerful streams of noise normally associated with the band were muted in the large hall. Instead the bare trappings of their songwriting were exposed, which might have been an interesting contrast for a frequent listener, but to the uninitiated came across as listless and at times sluggish."

Benjamin, I have to disagree with you here. Not only did Deerhunter NOT disappoint, but I thought that they absolutely brought it last night and sounded near perfect in that beautiful room. I saw a good amount of people focused on them and talking about how great they were afterwards. The reason I bought a ticket to this was to see them play that historic room and they definitely did not let me down. I thought they had as much control of the crowd as they could and were fully aware of the stage they were on. They even mentioned how big it was for them to play there, that they had family in attendance and that they were nervous. Bradford even cracked a joke when they had a false start, saying that they were allowed only one screw up or they would come and drag them off the stage. Honesty is something that Deerhunter has always been known for and last night proved that. You really felt like it was "listless and at times sluggish" ? I felt that their set was well structured, tight and it all lead up beautifully to their "long cacophonously exciting outro." Last night was a huge night for Deerhunter too and any fan that was there was fully aware of it.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 7:12 PM

I really wish I had been there. I was so close to going, just missed, and regretted it all night.

Posted by Dan | March 27, 2010 7:17 PM

word 7:12. deerhunter did indeed sound great. but too many people chatted during their set, and since it was a seated venue it was a big distraction. would have loved to been seated front row

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 7:22 PM

Here's a great montage of clips from last night's show:
http://www.musicvagabond.com/post/477868943/spoon-live-at-radio-city-music-hall-i

Posted by Matt | March 27, 2010 7:23 PM

"Radio City Music Hall is often a tough sell for rock fans"

only when the headliner isn't an exciting live act like, um, well you were there.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 7:25 PM

"Radio City Music Hall is often a tough sell for rock fans"

no doubt! i saw mmj and arcade fire there, and after those shows i never wanna go back to rcmh for a rock gig. kind of a bummer because i love the venue and the atmosphere

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 7:29 PM

re: «For the majority of their performance, the powerful streams of noise normally associated with the band were muted in the large hall. Instead the bare trappings of their songwriting were exposed, which might have been an interesting contrast for a frequent listener, but to the uninitiated came across as listless and at times sluggish.»

interesting. my thoughts while listening to all 3 groups was the spiritual power rcmh evokes in every band i've seen there & on the audience. bands invariably comment on the awe they feel performing there. the place has GREAT accoustics and sightlines no matter where you sit that instantly achieves unusual rapport despite its size. It also has formidable security which quickly squelches any spontaneous, freeform incursions into, let alone down, the aisles. last night i decided it's my favorite indoor place to hear live music, because you find yourself so completely permeated by it. bands just sound different there. take for example mmj, whose performance & reception there was anything but staid. i have their studio albums & mp3s of their performances at bonnaroo 2004 & 2008, msg, louisville, & both the film & cd renditions of okonokos & i'd seen them live before elsewhere, & i can always instantly single out the rcmh versions of songs because of the velvety lushness of the sound.

it's taken me a long time to warm up to spoon in; for a long time, i didn't appreciate their minimalism & it didn't help that the one time previously i saw them in the midday heat at the acl-fest a few years back their playing was lackluster, but they've definitely grown on me--most of the set last night was first rate though i found the band's experimentation with the feedback & reverb created distance precisely when i didn't want it, whereas deerhunter's command of it created an indelible bond.

so, coming back to deerhunter and your take on their performance, last night was my first live experience, rcmh or otherwise. and if THAT was 'listless & sluggish,' whoa.

Posted by maxene mulford | March 27, 2010 7:54 PM

I never really make comments on here but this has become completely ridiculous.
This Ben guy may be one of the worst(and clueless) writers ever to hit the internet and i do not say that lightly. What IS funny is that it leads to more long winded and terribly worded responses. Nor am i shocked to see praise given to him as well. Most of the people who comment on here are simply idiots. But i guess if you think that seeing a band at RCMH is "fantastic" and you are not "bridge and tunnel" then well I should not be shocked.

Honestly though to the guys who run this blog I am sure you think it is funny having this guy write. The comments bring hits etc but seriously this is amateur hour.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 8:14 PM

I AGREE with this Ben guy.
Deerhunter singer(strums chord slowly), and in offkey Radiohead falsetto - "waaaaAAH"
(another random chord) : "whooaaAAH".
Fat bearded guy in glasses randomly stands up and starts applauding. For 5 minutes.

Deerhinter 1st song was good though. Their closer was pretty cool, I mean how can you not nod your head to 10 minutes of the same fucking riff?


Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 8:47 PM

sondre lerche was in attendance last night and deerhunter blew spoon out of the water.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 9:05 PM

good thing strange boys got rid of that sax player, she was annoying.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 9:55 PM

Swarmy band spoon is

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 10:08 PM

Spoon pwned.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 10:33 PM

Not crazy about the review, but opinions are opinions I guess. The writer did seem to copy and paste the setlist from someone else's blog, though - at least reword that stuff, man:

http://www.weallwantsomeone.org/2010/03/27/spoon-live-at-radio-city-music-hall-nyc-326/

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 10:45 PM

lol @ pungent

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 11:04 PM

deerhunter set from memory. Though as a obsessive fan I'm pretty sure this is it.

new song name unkown
Hazel St
Fountain Stairs (New Song)
Never Stops
Revival (new song)
Little Kids
Primitive 3-D (new song)
microcastle w/ jam
Operation
Calvary Scars Aux out w/ jam

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 11:14 PM

11:14, thanks for the info. How do you know the names of most of the new songs?

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 11:22 PM

Searching through youtube and forums and matching the video to what I remembered.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 11:44 PM

I forgot that they played NEH after Primitive 3-D.

Posted by Anonymous | March 27, 2010 11:45 PM

deerhunter sounded great

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 12:18 AM

I thought Deerhunter was kind of awesome, I saw them at McCarren park a while back and didn't really care for them. I was not looking forward to their set. But I thought they used the big clean space/acoustics and also arena lighting of RCMH exceptionally well, it all kind of jelled and was very compelling. It is true that the room was half-empty, but what can you do. I actually nodded off a couple times in the very start of Deerhunter's set but given what they were doing that was kind of fitting. Then in a relaxed state I watched the rest of the set with great attention, they really made their kind of experimental repetitions work great. Also Cox was in excellent voice.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 2:30 AM

yea, gotta join the chorus of disagreement about Deerhunter. This was the first time i'd ever seen them, and i'm not a huge fan, but i was really impressed by them, thought they sounded great, esp that 10 minute jam at the end, and were really tight. I definitely left the show a big fan!

Posted by brian Roach | March 28, 2010 9:29 AM

So, I was at the Spoon show in Boston last night and the Strange Boys told a great tale about the band Spoon. The night before while they were playing at RCMH, the Strange Boys's van got towed and impounded. Being a new band, they have very little money to tour with, the guys from Spoon knowing how skint new bands are, they pay the very expensive fee to get their van back. When I arrived at the venue in Boston, the guys from Spoon were out to greet the Strange Boys saying they were happy that it all worked out.

The gentlemen of Spoon are real class acts besides being some of the most talented muscians around. Great guys !

Posted by Red | March 28, 2010 11:57 AM

What are you guys being so defensive about Deerhunter for? I have seen them play an almost retarded amount of times, most of which were great. But the fact of the matter is, nobody was into them. You could have heard crickets in between some of their songs. It is a strange venue for any rock band. Especially shoe-gaze-ish bands. Also, the drums had no pop what so ever to them during the Deerhunter set. Final Answer....RCMH is not a good rock venue. There is no valid argument against that.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 12:21 PM

@ 12:21... I don't think anyone is being defensive here. I'm actually a huge Deerhunter fan who's seen them about 10 times, mostly at smaller venues. I agree wth your critique of their performance. They're not ready to play their best set at a 6,000 seat theater. Spoon worked their way up to these sort of gigs for the last 15 years.
I don't think a band goes from playing the Bowery to Radio City over-night
But this wasn't a doublebill, it was Sppon being supported by Deerhunter as an opening act. How many people listening to Deerhunter with an open-mind aren't going to be impressed given the circumstances

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:19 PM

It's because RC doesn't use their fire exits which CLEARLY flank the sides of the room. And then keep the main aisles clear under the guise that people dancing is a fire hazard. They just want to keep the aisles clear for all the trustafarians in the first rows who need to run to the bathroom to blow more lines.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:22 PM

Anyone know what the vintage reggae played between Deerhunter and Spoon was?

Deerhunter was ok. They're slower moments put my section to sleep. "NEH" was the predictable highlight.

Spoon were great fun, though I thought this was very much a play-the-new-stuff show. Transference and GaX5 got the majority of time, and from the looks of the crowd and sound of the cheers, that's because those are the band's big sellers. The newer (older NPR listeners w/ their grade school kids, teenage Youtube surfers, less hip indie, etc.) fans are the ones that made it possible for Spoon to sell out Radio City. It is what it is. The band's still great.

Posted by Raz | March 28, 2010 1:25 PM

"RCMH is not a good rock venue. There is no valid argument against that."

You can't have been there for Spoon's set, then, because this is probably the best they've ever sounded - the room's acoustics were perfect for Britt's guitar in particular. I'm guessing this may have been they best they've ever sounded live.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:33 PM

Spoon should be opening for Deerhunter = fact

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:38 PM

It does not surprise me in the least that this board would be so PRO Deerhunter. I mean Bradford Cox is a known purveyor and commentator of Brooklyn Vegan. Who knows maybe a lot of musicians are...he just may be the only one with balls enough to not hide behind the "anonymous" tag

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:45 PM

"Spoon should be opening for Deerhunter = fact"

That's hilarious. At this show, DH sounded like a high school band who'd just discovered My Bloody Valentine and Pink Floyd two months ago. They have a few years to go.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 1:48 PM

My personal opinion is that the bassist in Deerhunter is the most rad person in all of music. Consistently cool.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 2:08 PM

Weak review. "Well-written" in that trying too hard kind of way. Plus, some of that stuff is clearly pulled right out of his ass. The setlist isn't any lighter on Transference material than other dates from this tour, and the older songs have been in rotation at the other dates, too. The Friedberger/Boeckner stuff obviously hasn't been played elsewhere, but generally they've been playing 6-8 Transference songs (they played 7 at RCMH), almost as many Ga songs (7 here), and a mix of older stuff. Someone, Small Stakes, Fisk, Bean...all have been played on the current tour.

And that stuff about them being reinvigorated by the release of this new album? Why, just because they played Mercury Lounge when last time out the tiny, exclusive show was at Bowery instead? Transference is the type of album Spoon has been releasing for about a decade now. It doesn't really experiment or break the mold any more than any of their other post-Sneaks material.

The whole review just feels forced. You've already got the venue and the guests, you don't need to spin more bullshit to try to create a more interesting context.

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 2:35 PM

Great Pics!!!

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 4:32 PM

"Anyone know what the vintage reggae played between Deerhunter and Spoon was?"
Answer: PRINCE BUSTER

Posted by Anonymous | March 28, 2010 10:24 PM

DEERHUNTER DESTROYED

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 9:53 AM

Fun show. Deerhunter were a bit green in that big place ... but I enjoyed them.

The strange boys would be awesome at a party upstate (where i am from) and I mean that in the best possible way.

Spoon is very much in control of their destiny and it shows.... not many bands are,

I fun Friday night.

Posted by Burg | March 29, 2010 10:03 AM

all i can say is:

a) this review of spoon is well-written and inspired. but then again, how could it not be given how incredible spoon was at radio city music hall friday night?

b) to all the absolute assholes who have posted here in the past and will again that "spoon is great but suck live:"

you know absolutely NOTHING about music, performance, art, sound and life. i mean snarkiness is one thing, but utter IGNORANCE is quite another. spoon not only killed the moonlight at RCMH, they totally KILLED IT.

they were tight, they were technically ON, they were brilliant. actually, as much as i knew it was the postings of complete douchebags, it was nice to have people panning spoon as a live act because that just highlighted their complete control on friday night.

c) didn't catch strange boys but deerhunter sucked - BIG time. but of course i could've expected that as they are another of these flash-in-the-pan 'faux brooklyn' bands that clueless hipsters gravitate to and make laughingly ridiculous comments about (i.e. "spoon should be opening for deerhunter" - i laughed 'til it hurt. and then i laughed some more).

d) bv, which is a great blog, runs the risk of losing relevancy due to the high percentage of losers who post here. there really should be some sort of cultural/musical litmus test commenters must pass before being allowed to post their opinions here. that would cut down on the ignorance and keep most of the bottom feeding scum away.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 10:03 AM

Deerhunter was certainly better than Spoon in Boston.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 10:45 AM

cultural litmus test? hahahhahahhahahahha This blog rules because of of anonymous comments, and the owner knows it.

Posted by doesitmatter | March 29, 2010 11:01 AM

"cultural litmus test? hahahhahahhahahahha This blog rules because of of anonymous comments, and the owner knows it."

agreed! the 2nd 10:03 is a douche, get off your high horse

Posted by bobby the rook | March 29, 2010 11:09 AM

10:03's comment made me throw up in my morning coffee mug. good thing it was close by.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 11:35 AM

10:03 is right about Deerhunter sucking but is also a douche, as is anyone who suggests cultural litmus tests while posting anonymously like a baby.

10:03 is also right about Spoon being great at Radio City, but they do sometimes suck live, so 10:03 needs to get over itself.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 11:51 AM

Just to clarify .. the "other" 10:03 yes?

My post seemed pretty docile except for the "DH seemed a little green" comment.

Your pal,

Burg.

Posted by Burg | March 29, 2010 12:51 PM

Right, Burg, the other 10:03. DH definitely seemed green up there - intimidated, even. They should have taken the hint when people stopped clapping at sat down while they let their muddy-ass-sounding instruments feed back for ten minutes at the end of the set.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 1:27 PM

Me like khaki. Me take PATH. Me say Spoon bettah band.

Me like drainpipe jean. Me take L. Me say Deerhunter bettah band.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 1:41 PM

FALSE DICHOTOMY. Keep eating your Wheaties folks.

Posted by Anonymous | March 29, 2010 1:50 PM

regarding the review:

There were 6 horn players, not 7.
and the horns did not play on "Don't You Evah."

were you watching closely?

Posted by Rupert W | March 29, 2010 4:03 PM

Ben, put down the thesaurus next time you write a review.

"It wasn't until midway through Spoon's first set, when the band was augmented by a seven piece horn section for numbers like "Don't You Evah" from their brass heavy 2007 album Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, that the crowd finally took notice of the scorching effort brought forth by the band members and joined in on the revelry of this potential poster child for indie rock perseverance affixing its name to such an illustrious marquee."

I hope this (run on) sentence isn't supposed to be serious.

Posted by BK | March 29, 2010 8:35 PM

re:RCMH not good for rock.

sometimes they turn the house PA down for opening bands then pump it up for the headliner. sometimes bands have good nights and band ones. sometimes the crowd jells better. sometimes one soundguy is better than the other guy. sometimes the soundman is a d-bag and is looking at his iphone.

deerhunter and spoon are BOTH good bands.


Posted by thetruth | March 30, 2010 10:52 AM

if the crowd would have shut up and listened instead of talking with their dates, i could have gotten more involved with the openers, was looking forward to hearing deerhunter... was this a theatre full of idiots on their first dates? spoon sounded just fine... didn't need the brass... opening acts always get the worst sound... a real disservice to deerhunter...

Posted by moldymind | March 30, 2010 10:08 PM

i didn't show up for strange boys though i heard they were meh

deerhunter, for a band that i never listen to and kind of have a subconscious hatred for, convinced me that they were pretty good. to play shoegaze in radio city music hall is ballsy (well i guess what else would they have done? circle jerked?) and the crowd wasn't to into it, but they started and ended really well. even if the middle of their set was a little bit boring.

spoon rocked it...they made me forget about the fact that the line for the men's bathrom (yes, the line for the men's bathroom) was like a kenneth cole catalogue. really everybody in the band was spot on and the horns were killer

Posted by Anonymous | April 7, 2010 11:27 PM

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