Let’s see… how many posts can I have about Built to Spill in one week’s time… not enough, that’s how much. But everyone loves a formalized concert review – it gives them intelligent shit to argue about at bars with strangers. Bands I love are always my hardest to review however, because I’m usually trying to hide my massive fan-boy boner. But here’s the first half of my review on last week’s Built to Spill show in Portland. Read the full thing HERE.
Talk about your holy Mecca of all things clad in flannel — the planet aligning moment of Built to Spill playing a gig at Portland’s intimate Doug Fir Lounge was like the musical equivalent of Uter from the Simpsons getting stranded on an island composed solely of chocolate and strudel. Sure the room was packed tight enough to send any self-respecting fire marshal into full-on cardiac arrest, but there wasn’t any place on the planet anyone in that building would have rather been. Doug Martsch is quite possibly rock’s greatest unsung hero, but in the alternate universe known as the Pacific Northwest indie-rock underground, he is the beacon of all things sacred and untouched. I would go so far as to say that a majority of the crowd this night would take a bullet for the man — myself included.
First things first: the subterranean confines of the Doug Fir are a miracle of sonic perfection. In one of the best sounding rooms of all time, Built to Spill’s three guitar eruption was dialed in like an audiophile’s wet dream. And as soon as the ominous attack of “The First Song” kicked the show off, every head in the room was fully consumed by the sound. In recent interviews, Martsch has commented that he’s trying to bring a lot of forgotten songs back into the mix. So I don’t know if it was because of that or because he was playing to an audience that literally knew his entire catalog, but of the 14 songs played, only three were released after 1999. This was a show of epically deep cuts, and the crowd was basking in throwback dreamland. In less welcoming venues, songs like “Stab” and “Big Dipper” would have been met with casual acceptance — here they were greeted like Elvis had just walked out on stage…
And the rumor floating around is that the new one they played last week is potentially “Living Zoo,” but still not confirmed. If you like hearing absurdly noisy crowds, here’s a clip of Doug playing another new song solo in Portland last year. This wasn’t what they played the other night, but this one is fucking beautiful.