Little Radio, downtown, July 16

By John Curry

Photos by Timothy Norris

It was at least 100 degrees in the slam-packed, converted, downtown warehouse that is Little Radio. Spoon's prickly main man, Britt Daniels, had a tough time keeping the sweat out of his eyes as he wiped his brow with his sleeve while slashing the down strokes, all in one sweeping motion.

The band came to town to play a few low-profile shows (also tonight at Cinespace) to help celebrate the release of their new record out this week before playing the Fonda in September. And in the case of last night’s Little Radio show, playing for free to support internet radio when they could have easily filled a bigger room.

Spoon's songs are filled with Daniels' angular guitar stabs and tremelo-soaked outros, but that's just part of the attraction. Daniels' best songs incorporate deceptively simple (and sometimes traditional) chord structures that can be found in everything from old standards and torch songs to post punk outfits from the late 70s/early 80s, like Gang of Four and Wire. Look back to these bands' most melodic tunes and you can hear where Spoon has picked up the pieces, and put them back together again to suit their own purposes.

Daniels and drummer/partner Jim Eno really cover all the bases — the best received song last night, “I Turn My Camera On” from Gimmie Fiction, which was many fans' entrée to Spoon, is a one-off dance groove that really doesn't represent the group in any meaningful way, but is still a whole lotta fun. So is the new single, “The Underdog,” from the just-released album, GaGaGaGaGa, which is bringing a lot of (possibly?) unwelcome comparisons to Billy Joel, of all people. This hits on the main problem some have with the band. Spoon is classic rock for the new millennium – either you let go and love it or you resent it because of its mass appeal. The band kind of falls through the cracks a little — too straight ahead commercial sounding for the truly underground but too cerebral for mass consumption. The jury's still out. But like the Cheap Trick or Tom Petty records that came out under of 70's punk rock. Spoon is a wonderfully guilty pleasure.

Spoon play July 17 at Cinespace.

For more photos of the Spoon concert by Timothy Norris, click here.

LA Weekly