Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Spoon--The Metro, Chicago, Illinois

New Year's Eve presented two options:

1. Go to a bar and surround myself with a myriad of drunk idiots; or
2. Go to the Metro, surround myself with a myriad of drunk idiots, and watch Spoon.

Not that tough of a decision. I have never been to a show on New Year's Eve, even though every year Chicago has something incredible to offer. And this is the band that churned out an album that was almost a prerequisite for every music related top ten list that has made its way onto the Internet these past few weeks. An impressive feat when you consider the countless/pointless lists that we have been inundated with lately. (Yeah, we did one, too). Walking over to the Metro, there was a light snow fall that seemed perfect for Chicago on New Year's Eve....which can be seen in the picture of the marquee above. Inside wasn't as pretty. The line for the coat check at the Metro was a bit intimidating. By the time I got to the front, I chatted up the girl running the show and told her that I had no chance of not losing my coat ticket and that they have a better coat check deal than the Congress Theatre. I have no idea why the price of coat check intrigues me but it does. She told me (in a very, "yeah, that's right, we rule"-like fashion) that the Congress Theatre is owned by the House of Blues so they're always a bit on the expensive side when it comes to everything. I almost used this opportunity to remind her of the $75 ticket price for the evening (I didn't win the contest) and see how well she could craft a rebuttal. But the looks of the people waiting in the O'hare-like line told me it was wise to just let it go. I think most were already annoyed that I was holding up the line to talk with her to begin with.

The Sea and Cake's Lead Singer and Guitarist Sam Prekop with John McEntire on drums.

Chicago's own The Sea and Cake opened. These guys have been around forever and when they walked out had somebody told me they were actually lobbyists for the AARP I would have believed them. When this show was first announced it was billed as Spoon with a "very special guest". The announcement of the Sea and Cake came much later. I thought about it for a bit and given their respect and reputation around town I decided the "very special guest" tag was fine with me.

Not a bad picture, they were just playing really fast.

The Sea and Cake were an exceptional opening act. They mostly played songs from their 2007 release Everybody. But the best part of their set was when they played "The Biz" from the album of the same name. Those who came early and were paying attention really got to see some great guitar playing by Sam Prekop. And John McEntire (some of you may know him from Tortoise fame) kept plugging away on the drums. Later, I overheard someone in the bathroom say, "Man, Sea and Cake rock. John McEntire rocks!" This sophist was right both times. They played their jazzy/spacey tunes for about and hour and left. It was really good to see them. I somehow missed their set at this past summer's Pitchfork Festival and this was New Year's Eve and we were in Chicago. Seeing a highly acclaimed local act seemed appropriate.

As mentioned, the cost of this show was $75. That sounds pretty expensive and I have seen Spoon many times before for nothing near that price. But you have to remember this was New Year's Eve. Most bars around town charge much more than that just for admittance and then you drink for free. So that was my mindset going in........$75 to see one of the great bands of this era and free drinks. Not too shabby except that wasn't the case. Not only were drinks not free but they were more! Six dollars for a Miller Lite and $7 for any decent beer. (I learned a valuable lesson from a friend this summer at the Wilco show at Millenium Park which is when beer is massively overpriced, you might as well pay an extra dollar for something decent rather than spend the evening drinking something like Miller Lite. So I spent the evening drinking Sam Adams out of a small Solo cup.) My friend and I walked away from the bar and she tripped on that hidden, dark step (all those who have been to the Metro, you know what I'm talking about, right? The hidden, dark step that comes out of nowhere?) and spilled some of her beer all over her dress. Nothing like spilling expensive beer that's actually cheap all over a cheap dress that is supposed to look expensive.

Again, I have seen Spoon a few times before and have never paid anywhere near the $75 range. What exactly are we paying for? Who cares if it happens to be New Year's Eve. Confetti can't be that expensive. What say you, Britt Daniel?

Marty Lennartz from XRT, but.....

.....who the hell is this guy?

Marty Lennartz from 93.1 XRT (sponsor) took the stage and mentioned Spoon would be out shortly. Soon there was some sort of an announcement that there were only 38 seconds until the New Year! Electricity started to fill the crowd. I looked down at my watch and saw that it was only 11:55. Everyone else made the same realization and went back to what they were doing (downing $13 drinks and using words like "evah").

Here is Spoon celebrating the new smoking ban in Chicago.

Soon after some guy in a pair of shades took the stage, the actual countdown happened. It's 2008! A weak attempt at confetti rained from the sky. Everyone had to immediately put out their cigarettes as the smoking ban in Illinois officially went into effect. I saw a few fat guys wearing looks of concern on their faces knowing at this time next year they might not be allowed inside the premises. We're coming after you next, tubby! The guy in shades then said, "And now I present the greatest band in the world...Spoon!" Sure, why not. Although I'm kind of surprised the Rolling Stones don't have some sort of Joe DiMaggio-type clause that says only they can be addressed as the greatest band in the world. I'm sure they looked into it.

Rob Pope found the fake mustache left behind by Craig Finn exactly two months back.

Spoon was in a very celebratory mood. They had champagne and Rob Pope and Jim Eno for whatever reason had on fake mustaches. I was wearing a real mustache just to antagonize Britt Daniel because I have a feeling he can't grow one. Call it a hunch. They kicked into "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" from Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga and 2008 was well on its way. Is there a more solid band than Spoon? You always know you're in good hands when they're on the stage. It was a very well-behaved crowd, too. Everyone was dancing but doing a pretty good job of staying in their allotted area. I can rarely remember a set list past what a band opened and closed with, I just know Spoon next played another one of their countless hit songs and I'm almost positive it was also from the latest album. The fake mustaches were gone by this time, too.

That's a pretty sorry looking mustache, Jim.

Britt Daniel is usually the coolest guy in the room.

Now that I think about it, I can almost guarantee that "Rhthm & Soul" was played next. Not to be confused with "You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb" or "Don't You Evah". Or "Learn To Spell, Jrks".

The hits just kept on coming. I don't know if Spoon has a better song than "The Beast and Dragon, Adored" but what I do know is that song coincided with a case of the "meat sweats" from a New York Strip that I had consumed a few hours earlier. It didn't stop me from enjoying that song though. Spoon's horn section came out to lend a helping hand on some of the horn-based tracks from the latest album. And it was around this time that we all learned some valuable information. Britt Daniel told us before one of the songs that when he thought up of the album title Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga he meant it be said as fast as possible and then he demonstrated the correct use. Practice it to yourself right now, and say it almost like you're mimicking the sound of a machine gun. Got it? Now tell your friends. Finally, some closure.

I ran to the bathroom towards the end of the set and in there they have this picture on the wall that's entitled "Things You Probably Don't Know" or something. One of them was "You use 24 muscles every time you swallow." Okay. But another one was "The average lifespan of a major league baseball is 5-7 pitches."'s 6, right?

(From L-R) Eric Harvey, Jim Eno, Britt Daniel, and Rob Pope

Spoon never backed away from their festive mood. Keyboardist Eric Harvey was sharing his champagne with some of those in the front of the crowd. They returned the favor by, for reasons I don't know, nagging him incessantly to play "Stayin' Alive" by the Bee Gees. It was not played. However, "Small Stakes" from Kill the Moonlight was. And this was a much better alternative from perhaps Spoon's best album. The horn section, who missed the memo on the dress code for the evening, returned and the band closed out their set with "The Underdog". I personally thought it was a great decision to play the 4th best song of 2007 as a closer.

Spoon came back out for the first of their two encores and played "I Turn My Camera On". Damn this band. So many hits. It was about this time that we retreated to the back of the venue. The crowd was still very thick and even though Spoon had been playing for well over an hour and half no one was going anywhere. The band played some more songs, took another quick break, and came back out to play some more. Other than those already mentioned, songs that really stood out over the course of the evening were "Anything You Want", "The Ghost of You Lingers", and "The Two Sides of Monsieur Valentine". They eventually took their bows and called it a night. Bravo to Spoon. They were a great band to watch on this night and at this setting.

The silhouette of Spoon.

I thought it was bad before the show but now the line to receive your coat looked like something out of hell. Amazingly I hadn't lost my coat ticket but it was ripped, folded, and soaked in meat sweat. Once outside the image was almost surreal. Ignoring all the people yelling and spilling out of the bars on Clark Street, there was a blanket of snow that had been falling all through the night. In a couple of days it will probably look rather homely but walking home (see below) the snow and city looked perfect. I love Chicago. Here's to a good 2008.


Blake F. Ecksnow said...

"Nothing like spilling expensive beer that's actually cheap all over a cheap dress that is supposed to look expensive."


drizzle262 said...

you should have followed it up with, "who's fooling who?". and yes, i agree, that was well done.

Alex said...

No one was fooling anybody. I can spot cheap beer and a cheap dress from a mile away.

Elizabeth said...

That guy introducing the band was Ryan Pope (Rob's bro and formerly of the get up kids). Terrific person.

Alex said...

Duly noted. Thank you for letting me know.

ewf said...

Nice write-up. See, I didn't even have to be there and spend the 75 bones. Lexie did it perfectly. Not that I would have remembered it anyway. Nice photography too, jiggaman.

Alex said...

You would have remembered this one just because most average salaries didn't permit for a total drunken night. Which I guess is actually good. The pictures turned out well.

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