ACL REVIEW: Spoon is a flat circle

What’s your favorite Spoon outing? Did you see Britt Daniel’s men at that private SXSW networking event a few years back? Or Hole In the Wall during the ‘90s? Or this very ACL stage adjacent to the football tent in 2005 when “Sister Jack” was a buzzing hit? Or at the secret Antone’s show in January? Or the converted old Emo’s in March when one of the most tenured Austin bands ever turned the historic punk club into a multiple-night residency?

Britt Daniel of Spoon performs at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in Zilker Park on Saturday October 7, 2017. JAY JANNER / AMERICAN-STATESMAN

Hell my dad used to, no joke, tune Jim Eno’s piano. My little brother toured with Spoon in ‘07 as a backing horn player. (I’ve never met the band.)

Cool story, bro: Many of the Miller Lite stage patrons flanking Spoon Saturday in Zilker Park were first-time callers. Spoon has always been the slick scene kids’ favorite area indie band. Daniel used to DJ at student station KVRX, they’d tell us at orientation, and the band’s references are impeccably tailored.

No matter, universal grooves like “I Turn My Camera On” and 10-year-old “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” gem “Don’t You Evah” lulled the blanket-standing newcomers. 2014’s “Rent I Pay” pulsed with arena-ready drums.

The band has such a well-reviewed string of records that members could cherry-pick 15 bright cuts and call it an ACL, but here the band’s set had peaks and valleys, as if outfitted for longtime fans. New album “Hot Thoughts” played prominently, and songs like “I Ain’t the One” were given space to breathe and build.

“This one goes out to everybody from Elgin,” Daniel deadpanned as an apparent inside joke, prior to the new album’s title track. “This one right here.”

Spoon knows what festival tier it belongs on, and it’s a line or two beneath thin-skinned fellow Texans like the operatic attention-hounds in Arcade Fire. But now it plays on the ACL sunset hole, where legacy bands from the early 2000s like Band of Horses and Ryan Adams come to deliver your money’s worth in the early evening.

On R&B-tinted, falsetto-tinged tracks like “Can I Sit Next to You” Daniel ditched the guitar and used his tall frame to play Lothario frontman. He’s got those moves down now, too.

Look folks it was another Spoon show. The Jon Brion-produced “The Underdog” remains as rousing and emotive as when you heard it on network television.

This band writes largely great songs: Even 2010’s flatly received “Transference” is secretly like rich with bangers.

Everyone seemed to like these guys because Daniel growls like late-period John Lennon. But if you think it’s easy to put out a bunch of sharply self-aware albums for hipsters, I’ve got some Voxtrot stock to sell you.

We’ll see you at the next Spoon show, or Divine Fits if that side project ever circles back up. (Seriously Britt can we get another Divine Fits album?)


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