18 October 2009

Built to Spill, 9:30 Club, Washington, DC. 10/17/09

This show was such a no-brainer that I should have thought twice. I had intended on going down to Baltimore to see Sunset Rubdown, but at the last minute decided to see Doug Martsch and crew. Violent Soho and Disco Doom were the two opening bands, but truth be told I don't remember a whole lot from either of their sets. I remember Violent Soho being louder than I expected, and I remember telling a girl outside the club that I thought they were pretty good but that's about all that I remember. I'm pretty sure that I dug Disco Doom as a band, but to be fair I was also drinking a cold, frosty Boddington's at the same time so it's entirely possible that I was just enjoying that. 
The crowd at the 9:30 club can be split up into two classifications. There were bros there who had nothing better to do so they went to a show, and then there were creepy bros who were there trying to find women to sleep with them. Unfortunately, the area that we were standing in was occupied by the creepy bros. 
This show was my first opportunity to see Built to Spill. They came to town last year with the Meat Puppets, but I missed the show because I was still in school and had no way of making the trek. With that being said, it would be fairly easy and definitely lazy to say that the show was really good and that I had an awesome time. The only problem with this is the previous sentence isn't entirely true. I was incredibly pumped about seeing BTS, but that didn't necessarily guarantee that the show would be great.
Call me naive or a douchebag or an asshole, but I thought that if a band can release a spectacular live album like BTS did then that means that the band in question is going to be truly impressive in concert. However, since I am a naive, douchebag-asshole this is not what happened. Built to Spill played for two hours, but it was a very nondescript set. I know that they played "The Plan", but for the life of me I can't name another song from the set. At one point, they told the crowd that there was no set list for the evening and that they would play whatever came to them. I know that as a fan, this is supposed to be really exciting because it seems to suggest endless possibilities. But, it ended up yielding a very unfocused and somewhat scatter shot performance. Judging by the sounds that were filling the room, I may as well have been seeing Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem. (Writer's Note: Dr. Teeth and The Electric Mayhem were the band from The Muppets that featured Animal on drums.)
If someone had never heard Built to Spill before, and they saw last night's show then they would probably think that Built to Spill are awesome. Built to Spill is awesome, and last night was probably really awesome for lots of people in attendance. However, because of my hang-ups this wasn't the case for me. Now, I'm not going to go and do something stupid like say that seeing Wavves a few weeks back was better than seeing BTS, but Wavves was a lot more fun. And I'm not going to say that Gang Gang Dance is a better live band than BTS, although GGD were way more captivating live. I certainly wouldn't say that Jay Reatard's guitar work was better than BTS, but it was super rad to see in person. I would, however, compare seeing Dinosaur Jr to seeing Built to Spill. This is a pretty apt comparison since both of these bands come from the same era, and for the most part have the same fans. They both tend to occupy the same space in discussions about the forefathers of ass-kicking independent music. Dinosaur Jr is tremendous live, and a real marvel to behold. Each time I've seen Dino live, I leave the club on cloud nine because there's always part of me that can't believe what I just saw. Generally speaking, Gary and I exchange several enthusiastic high fives during the set and we don't move until it's over. Last night, there were no high fives and we stepped outside at least once to smoke a cigarette while BTS played. On the drive home from last night's show, I found myself wondering what the score from the hockey game was. 
Built to Spill had just finished playing four straight nights in New York to sold out crowds, so it's possible that they may have been slightly drained by the time they got to Washington. And, that's fine. Completely understandable. And, this isn't me sitting in a tower hating. This is me, a bro, feeling kinda bummed.

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