Spoon stirs up Chicago audience with return


Lou Foglia

Spoon returned to Chicago for the first time in four years to play at the historic Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St.

By Assistant Arts & Culture Editor

It has been a rough couple of years for Spoon. Although the band has always had its loyal fan base, Spoon has never quite reached the same peak it did in 2007 after the release of  Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the group’s most commercially and critically acclaimed album.

Four years ago, after the release of its last album Transference, the band decided to take a break. The hiatus led to a band realignment as well as a record label change. 

During the band’s break from performing, lead singer Britt Daniel stayed busy with his sideband, the super group The Divine Fits, featuring Handsome Furs and Wolf Parade guitarist Dan Boeckner. Though the band saw modest success in the past two years, Daniel returned to his first love, Spoon, earlier this year. 

With the band back together, it got to work on its eighth studio album, They Want My Soul, released Aug. 5. The album was a surprise for both fans and critics alike as it marked Spoon’s revitalization.

With the success of the new album, the Austin, Texas-based quintet hit the road for the first time since amicably parting ways with previous record label, Merge Records, signing with Loma Vista in May 2014. Spoon’s Sept. 16 set at the Chicago Theatre, 175 N. State St., was a clear indicator of the band’s musical rejuvenation.

“This place is amazing,” Daniel said. “I’ve never been in here.” 

For such a beautiful setting, Spoon more than fit the bill with its pounding piano-based melodies, thick bass lines and raspy vocals. The show’s stage design was almost as phenomenal as the band’s performance. Each song was arranged with lighting that reflected the feeling and tone of each chord being played, shining against giant silk screens and an upside down pyramid-shaped chandelier. 

Each member was dressed in white from head to toe except for Daniel, who was decked out in all black, establishing his place on stage as the rest of the band stayed to the side. 

Spoon opened with Knock Knock Knock, the fifth track on the band’s newest LP. The song set the tone for the rest of the night, building up as it went along with fuzzed-out guitar riffs and foot-stomping drum beats.

On the song “Rent I Pay,” the first single from They Want My Soul, the silhouettes of all five band members bounced from screen to screen with each strum of the guitar in a fluid progression. The track, clearly a crowd favorite for the Chicago audience, incorporated the stylings that Spoon fans have come to know through the years: finger-thrashing percussive piano hooks and loud bass-heavy drum beats.

The band did not only stick to the newer tracks, though. Songs such as “Don’t You Evah” from the band’s 2007 release Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and“The Beast and Dragon, Adored” off of 2005’s Gimme Fiction were clear audience favorites. Dark green lights projected onto the silk screens as a single side stage spotlight shone across the stage while the band played to the enthusiastic audience.

The performance of “I Just Don’t Understand” had every audience member dancing. The track opened with a lush piano arrangement, quickly transitioning into the pounding of piano keys as Daniel sang with the duck-walking swagger of a young Mick Jagger. As the song progresses, the piano takes center stage with wonderful solos from both keyboard players.

Between songs, the band joked with members of the audience, adding to the already friendly atmosphere. Daniel joked with a member of the front row about his sunglasses, noting that someone at almost all of the band’s tour stops has done the same, garnering laughs from the audience.  

The performance ended with perhaps one of Spoon’s most well known songs, “I Turn My Camera On,” but after rousing chants from the audience for more, the band came out for a five-song encore. The final set included some of the band’s most popular songs and obvious fan-favorites, such as “You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb” along with the band’s first big breakout hit song “The Way We Get By” from the 2002 album Kill The Moonlight. 

Spoon closed the show with the track that almost every audience member was anticipating: “The Underdog.” With the stripped down introduction to the song, incorporating keyboards rather than the brass section heard on Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, the band ended the night on a high note. The final track capped off a performance that was well worth the four-year wait.