It was a sweltering 97 degrees last night when Spoon took the stage at Stubb’s in Austin for round one of SpoonX3, an All Tomorrow’s Parties-type fest with Spoon as both headliner and opening-band curator back-to-back-to-back nights. It was a mere 67 degrees in Portland, where frontman Britt Daniel spends half his time, but after last night yielded such a massive, adoring crowd, he’s likely not regretting sweating through some new tunes headed for the band’s upcoming seventh album, slated for release on Merge next spring.
First came opening sets by Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears, an Austin big band combining the funk of the J.B.’s and the strut of the Blues Brothers, and Quasi, a Portland trio featuring former Sleater-Kinney drummer Janet Weiss and ex-husband Sam Coomes. Then Spoon emerged with an unpopular opener: “My Little Japanese Cigarette Case,” a slow-building, ambivalent number from the band’s most recent album, the wildly popular Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga. But the group quickly redeemed itself with “Don’t You Evah,” a cover by the band the Natural History, and then with “Got Nuffin,” the brilliant new single released June 30th.
“Got Nuffin” epitomizes classic Spoon. A propulsive, hypnotic drumbeat accented by spiky keyboard and jagged guitar in a combination that recalled the best of the ’80s alternative scene gave way to Daniel singing, “I’ve got nothing to lose but darkness and shadows.” The band went on to traverse its catalog, highlighting songs from the albums Gimme Fiction, Kill the Moonlight and Girls Can Tell, interspersing new songs throughout. Among them was a stabbing track about waking up in a supermarket, with the refrain “Are you quite certain enough?” called “Is Love Forever?” and “Written in Reverse,” wherein a hiccuping beat gave way to Daniel howling at the moon and beckoning somebody to call the hearse. As if on cue, a pasty-faced young girl on the verge of collapse was ushered out of the killer heat by paramedics.