Built To Spill at Marquee Theatre Last Night

Built To Spill
Marquee Theatre, Tempe
Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Built To Spill's Tuesday show at Marquee Theatre was one for the die-hards. While the hips kids paid upwards of $100 to watch Damon Albarn's Gorillaz cartoon/art-rap spectacular down the theater formerly known as Dodge, a crustier sort gathered to see the veteran Idaho act single-handedly responsible for making sure "indie jam band" wasn't an oxymoron during the decade between Dave Matthews rise to frat boy deity and the recent hipster reclamation of the genre.

It was a jammy show all the way through. There were, if you can believe it, folding chairs out at the usually wide-open venue, which was a good thing since a few gray-haired guys in jean shorts turned up looking for someplace to park themselves. As did -- gasp! -- a real live bootlegger, proudly raising his mic tower to capture the show for posterity and possible FLAC swap. Oh, and the third guitarist even sat a few times during the set.

The five-piece touring version of beardo guitar God Doug Martsch rewarded the faithful with what might be fairly called fat noodles and righteous riffs. And a cover of The Grateful Dead's "Ripple" to boot.

Actually, the "Ripple" cover kicked off a magnificent mid-set queue that included jammed out versions of "Hindsight," "Time Trap" and "Things Fall Apart."

"This is, like, the mellowest set we've ever played so thanks for being patient," Martsch said after that trio. "We just thought it'd sound better to do slow stuff in this big, giant room."

The mellow vibe continued with "The Weather," the slow-burning closer to the band's Ancient Melodies Of The Future before things sped up with crowd favorites "Car," from 1994's There's Nothing Wrong with Love, and "Carry The Zero," from 1999's Keep It Like a Secret.

After an encore break Martsch came back alone with an acoustic guitar to play "Dream" and "Offer" from his solo record. That pair of songs was a bit boring -- BTS' strengths aren't vocals or slow strumming -- so it was a relief when the rest of the band returned for "Liar." Even the closer, a super-extended version of "Broken Chairs," couldn't quite get back the mid-set momentum, sadly, but it wasn't a bad way to go out after nearly two hours. A cameo by Meat Puppet Cris Kirkwood, who came out to play bass at about the 10-minute mark, did help liven things up, though.

I, for one, left happy I decided to see this band instead of sickly-looking cartoons rapping in British accents. Now if I can just get a copy of that bootleg...

Critic's Notebook:

Personal bias: I've long loved this band.

The crowd: Some hipsters, a few hippies, a lot of beards, a little on the old side for a Marquee show.

Overheard: "Freebird!" That's a cute thing to yell, I guess, but be prepared to actually hear tat stupid song if you yell it at Built To Spill -- I've personally seen them play it.

Random notebook dump: Ahhhhhhhh so comfortable to sit down!

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Martin Cizmar
Contact: Martin Cizmar