Monday, September 08, 2014

Hopscotch 2014 Night 2: St. Vincent, Spoon

All photos by Chris Powers
St. Vincent and Spoon should put on better live shows than they do. Both are talented musicians with plenty of catalog to pull from and dedicated fans, but in City Plaza on Friday night they fell flat.

Annie Clark shields herself with the St. Vincent character and her performances lack the excitement that comes with not knowing what’s next. Her Hopscotch set was nearly identical to her set at the Haw River Ballroom in March right down to the stage banter. While that was no surprise, it still felt strange.

She has every right to protect herself because audiences can be uncaring and to put one’s self out on stage and realize that nobody cares is a terrifying thing. By protecting herself like this, there’s a cap on how great she can be.

St. Vincent could would better as performance art where scripting is more accepted and expectations are different, but even from that perspective Clark’s current set fails. Constant strobes, half-heart robot dance moves, and silly-posing-as-thoughtful stage banter aren’t interesting.

The one truly compelling thing is that Clark can play guitar with the best of them. Watching her dig into a riff or fly up the fretboard is a treat. Put her up against any other guitarist at Hopscotch and she’d be likely to top them.

Spoon is just about everything you could want from a rock band. Unmistakable sound, affable front man, and just enough groove to make it okay to dance if you wanted. They played their hits without making anybody wait for them and they sounded great. So why did it feel bland?

Spoon’s performance had little variation. There weren’t highs or low. It marched along at a steady pace and after a few songs it was clear that the medium tempo grooves didn’t have much variation either. Spoon can write a hell of song, but play them back to back to back and it does start to blur together. Spoon doesn’t have much to mix up their set list. 

At the beginning of their set, I had a much different opinion. They were a polished rock band doing all the right things, but the longer they played the less interested I became. After an hour, the draw of Spoon wore thin and I left for the more exciting club shows.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Agree on your Spoon review. Their new album is spectacular and those those were the highlights. Everything else was tossing out their most popular songs that I kept thinking they'd already played.

But it was also a terrible place to see Spoon, as all the incessantly-phone-checking bros and their chatty ladies ruined the audience. I think Spoon thought the crowd sucked too and mailed it in after a few songs.