SHOW REVIEW: Built
House of Blues - November 7 (Hollywood,
Warning: This review will not utilize
any witty or sentimental allusions to 9-11, because frankly,
every writer seems to be doing so, and aren't we all getting
a little sick of the hype?
Speaking of hype, front man for Built to Spill, Doug
Martsch has oft been compared to Neil Young, and I have
to say, I have seen Neil Young live and Doug Martsch is
no Neil Young.
Ok, so I'm starting off on a positive note, but if
you had to sit through five minute guitar tunings
between EVERY song, and frequent "do-overs" accompanied
by apologies, you may be a little pissy, too.
Built to Spill, the threesome out of Boise, Idaho,
were signed by Warner Brothers in the indie-rock signing
flurry of the mid-90's, and their new album, Ancient
Melodies of the Future, is their last under contract to
Bugs and Co. If I had to guess, there won't be a
re-signing. Don't get me wrong, it's not that they're
not talented, because they are. Their fusion of
distorted classic rock, space-grunge, and a little punk,
has garnered them a loyal and impressive cult following,
just not enough to sustain warranting being on a major
label. (These guys will not be breaking out on KROQ any
time soon.) As for Spilt's act on stage, this is where I
felt like taking one of their guitars and executing my
best Pete Townshend move, in an attempt to wake these
shoe-gazers up and alert them to the fact that people
are paying money to watch them, not kicking back in
their garage at three in the morning drinking brews.
The packed house did start out pumped, but gradually
grew antsy, as evidenced by the many mack-fests I
witnessed going in several nooks and crannies of the
room. The head-bopping, core faithful responded most
favorably to material from the band's 1997 release,
Perfect From Now On, songs with actual modulations, but
then were brought crashing back down to earth when they
ended and the tunings began.
I'm aware that their casual, low-fi approach is all
part of the act...the "We're really down-to-earth and
unpretentious, and spit in the general direction of rock
stars"...but would a little polish and momentum turn
their loyal grungemeisters against them? It may even
attract a few new fans who didn't have the benefit of
listening to one of their pretty cool albums beforehand.
Perhaps the show was best summed up by a Silver Lake
slacker behind me, who remarked during one of the Guitar
Tuning-101 sessions, "Their music is great, but it's