Last Night: Built to Spill @ The Showbox

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Justin Dylan Renney
Built to Spill played their second of two gigs at Showbox at the Market on Friday, November 20. Disco Doom and Finn Riggins opened the show.
Watching Built to Spill last night, I couldn't help but think of what Bill Graham said about The Grateful Dead--they aren't the best at what they do, they're the only one who do what they do.

For close to two decades, the great Idaho concern has made indie rock as soaring and sprawling and wonky as the Western U.S. territory they call home. They are very much a band from west of Rockies, which also means they have little of the drive to succeed so prevalent among East Coasters. In other words, Built to Spill doesn't really give a shit, which is both awesome and frustrating in the best possible ways.

That said, I always look forward to seeing them live because it's inspiring to see a performer like Doug Martsch, whose stage presence has always suggested that he would play the same no matter whether we were there to see him or not. Last night was full of the meandering guitar solos, yelped vocals, and heavy-footed riffs that they are known for. I expected a set heavy on material from their latest, There Is No Enemy, but found it pretty well-balanced. However, having not had the chance to digest their latest album, I walked away feeling that the new songs weren't quite as distinct and it seemed the people around me couldn't quite tell the difference either. All that will cured over time though, I'm sure, as Martsch and Co break in those songs to the point that they feel as familiar and well-worn as "The Plan" and "Reasons", the latter being a particular highlight. There was something about Martsch, standing their singing the lyrics "How the hell do you do it?" It's a question I feel like asking Martsch himself during those great Built to Spill moments, fleeting as they are. A band that totally does not work to impress, Built to Spill still somehow manage to reach moments of indie rock transcendence. How the hell, indeed.

 
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