“Florida, you’re nice to us,” said Britt Daniel, Spoon’s charismatic frontman, toward the end of his band’s marathon set last night at Revolution Live. The feeling was mutual, and understated, as a packed-but-not-too-packed crowd blanketed the dance floor and leaned over the second- and third-floor guardrails, transfixed by mesmerizing instrumentals one minute and bopping along to drum-tight pop the next. It had been 10 years since the band last played South Florida, and with its set clocking in at nearly two hours and 22 songs, it more than made up for lost time.
But first, we were treated to —and, for some, stupefied by—the bizarre punk-hop of Sneaks, aka Eva Moolchan, an emerging artist on Merge Records whose ability to divide the room was a thing of experimental beauty. After her first song, performed Velvet Underground-style with her back to the audience, a Spoon fan near me astutely commented, “this is the most avant-garde shit I’ve ever seen,” before departing for the lavatory.
Sneaks’ set quickly improved when she picked up a bass and played it like a rap instrument, lending every song a throbbing, digestive rumble. She emptied her vocal chords of pithy staccato sentiments, performing in the devil-may-care atonality of Lydia Lunch. I also heard a bit of M.I.A., Minutemen and E.S.G. in her sound, but “derivative” is never a word that would enter Sneaks’ alienating stratosphere. If she were to audition for “American Idol,” she’d be shuffled offstage in a fusillade of smug insults. Which is to say I loved it, of course, even if I was probably in the minority.
But few, if any, audience members had reservations about Spoon’s exhilarating set, which began with a grandiose, blissed-out version of “Do I Have to Talk You Into It?,” the catchiest cut from its latest LP Hot Thoughts. Subsequent selections like “Inside Out” and “The Beast and Dragon, Adored” extrapolated on what Spoon does best at its live shows: Start with the recorded compositions and let them linger, wander and evolve into dynamic, capacious opportunities for sonic exploration.
This often resulted in songs that, at the precipice of settling into an ambient groove, turned themselves to 11 in calculated explosions of rock fury. It worked every time, especially on the slow burners like “Via Kanella,” which began with Daniel lying on his back near the drum kit, marinating in the textured balm. The musicians then flawlessly segued into “I Ain’t the One,” driven by Alex Fischel’s piano—a spare, haunting framework for Daniel’s title denial, which came across as exhausted yet defiant.
“Underdog,” the most popular tune of the night, exuded a similar sense of a song being built from scratch, piece by piece, first with only a shaker, then bass, then drums. “Black Like Me” was an anticlimactic number with which to end a set chockablock with vintage surprises—the unreleased rarity “Satellite,” the early classic “Everything Hits At Once.” But the encore was deafeningly received, even if Daniel inexplicably retreated backstage midway through “My Mathematical Mind.” (“I was about to pass out,” he said later, apologizing to the audience and his band. He consumed a banana and some guac in the green room and came back as good as new.)
Those expecting the three-song encore to end with the beloved single “Got Nuffin” were treated to a solo rendition of “I Summon You,” the song transformed into a Decemberists-style folk ballad. But wait, there was more: “Anything You Want” and “Small Stakes,” a pair of infectious relics from Spoon’s early-2000s period, recovered and polished and, yes, improved.
Ten years ago, Spoon had trouble filling a venue of Revolution’s size. Last night’s enthusiastic throng proved that to no longer be the case. With any luck, we won’t have to wait a decade for a return visit.
SPOON SET LIST
Do I Have to Talk You Into It?
I Turn My Camera On
The Beast and Dragon, Adored
Don’t You Evah
I Ain’t the One
Everything Hits at Once
Can I Sit Next To You?
Rent I Pay
Don’t Make Me a Target
Black Like Me
My Mathematical Mind
I Summon You
Anything You Want