With gusto, critically acclaimed indie rockers Spoon played a sold-out show at the Music Farm Friday night. Husband-and-wife indie-pop duo Tennis opened.
A little background: Formed in Austin, Texas in 1993, Spoon has offered fresh takes on rock, folk, and pop-infused indie since their debut studio LP Telephono on Matador Records. The album was noted as a brash homage to Pixies, Pavement, and poppy post-punk. Their 2002 album Kill the Moonlight pushed the band into commercial success with the acoustic-flavored, down-on-your-luck cut “The Way We Get By” — and the rest has been catchy history.
Guitarist, vocalist, and primary songwriter Britt Daniel’s soulful croon is now a trademark in American indie rock, and the band’s punchy, often minimalist approach to their songs carved out a niche for the group in indie radio with songs like “I Turn My Camera On,” “I Summon You,” and the humbly anthemic “The Underdog.”
After a well-deserved hiatus, the band returned with 2014’s They Want My Soul, a super-honed return-to-form with some added electronic and synthy oomph; single “Inside Out” is driven by a Dr. Dre-influenced drum beat and its spacey keyboards showcase Spoon’s dive into the psychedelic. The band just released their ninth studio album Hot Thoughts in March and embarked on a two-week string of shows to support it. Singles “Hot Thoughts” and “Can I Sit Next To You” follow in They Want My Soul’s pop-based footsteps, but Spoon remains as riffy and funky as ever.
As for Friday night’s show, Denver-based openers Tennis primed the audience with some tight dream pop in support of their 2017 album Yours Conditionally. Frontwoman Alaina Moore remained cool and groovy behind her keyboard while her husband Patrick Riley brought a confident swagger to the lead guitar. Though this was the indie-pop duo’s first show in Charleston, this wasn’t their first time in the Holy City. Moore and Riley are also expert sailors; they addressed the audience mid-show and shared an anecdote about coming to Charleston during their voyage and being met with Southern hospitality, a story that Moore also shared with the CP in this week’s issue. You’re welcome, Tennis, and thanks for the tunes in exchange.
Spoon’s arrival onstage was announced by a building swell of synth — an extended intro to “Hot Thoughts.” The sexy, pop-rock cut seemed more in-your-face live and for all the better. As streamlined as Spoon can sometimes be, it was rewarding to see them cutting loose on stage, and they launched right into garage-rock screamer “Rent I Pay” after their first song with an attitude that kicked the proverbial ass in the teeth.
Britt Daniel’s energy was infectious and remained top notch throughout the set as he switched between guitar and vocals to just him and the microphone, always fixated on the crowd and their vibe. Drummer and co-founder Jim Eno was solid and locked in with bassist Rob Pope the entire night, and keyboardist and guitarist Alex Fischel was super entertaining to watch, often delivering guitar solos with manic drive, stumbling around the stage.
Spoon’s large catalogue of songs made for a diverse set, blasting through their more straightforward-leaning rock and pop cuts at the beginning (“Can I Sit Next to You” really stood out live) before leading into more epic, rock n’ roll moments with the snarly “Don’t Make Me A Target” and the grand “I Saw the Light.” Hot Thoughts ballad “I Ain’t the One” showcased Daniels’ most heartfelt vocal delivery of the night and slowed down the atmosphere for a bit.
Daniels came back to the stage solo for the first song of the encore to perform a stripped-back rendition of “I Summon You,” a crowd sing-along. The full band finished with a loud, emotional performance of “My Mathematical Mind,” closing out the night with musical chops blaring.
Spoon’s Friday night show was the first on this tour to be sold out, and Charleston fans repped this hard throughout the set — it was apparent the band was eager to play for us. It was a high-energy night at the Farm, and it was a thrill to see a band as well-established as Spoon still hitting the stage with passion.
Check out both Tennis and Spoon if you haven’t —to quote Daniels, do I have to talk you into it?