Stirring set from grooving Spoon
Spoon has become a band increasingly difficult to pin down. What started in Austin, Texas, more than a decade ago as an indie guitar band came to the Roxy Wednesday as a group best known for the jaunty, horn-driven "The Underdog," the razor-disco "I Turn My Camera On," and the piano chug of recent movie-preview favorite "The Way We Get By." But the band's performance hinged on something usually ignored in rock music that's not explicitly dance-oriented: groove.
Britt Daniel, singer, frontman, and primary songwriter, might get all the glory, but it was Jim Eno's drums that drove the songs. He did for his band what good funk drummers do for theirs: laid down an unflashy but tight rhythm with dead-steady, clockwork precision. He helped the band bounce from the Motownisms of "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" to the psychedelic power-pop of "Chicago at Night" to the almost Zeppelinesque "The Fitted Shirt," on which Eno's off-kilter relentlessness was like John Bonham sans thunder.
When Spoon's formidable melodic gifts shook off their secondary role, they ended up with the doom-glam descending chords of the piano-guitar pounder "Don't Make Me a Target" and "The Delicate Place," which Daniel and Eric Harvey transformed into a two-guitar blaster. For the most part, though, Daniel's guitar threatened to go off the rails entirely when it wasn't simply adding dabs of color, which was ironic since the lighting and colored backgrounds made it seem as if Daniel spent half the evening in black and white.
But Eno subtly kept the songs centered, pushing along "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" while Daniel's guitar sounded too undefined for the song's crawling riff to work. Eventually, though, the singer rasped, "When you believe, they call it rock and roll" like a man barely over the hump of a cold just before tripping over his fingers in an expressionistic solo burst, and both the song and the band reached full bloom.
Opening band the Ponys bashed out squawking, scraping indie rock that was keen in parts but ended up melding together into one indistinguishable buzz over the course of 40 minutes.