Lounging on a comfy couch in the VIP lounge at the El Rey, waiting for Built to Spill to go on, I started thinking about when I was first really in to Built to Spill. It was 1996. Built to Spill makes these really infectious records--like Modest Mouse's "Lonesome Crowded West"--which you can't help but listent to over and over until you can't get it out of your head, but in a good way. That was 8 years ago and here I am, still listening to the same band play the same songs.
But they've been making beautiful music since "Ultimate Alternative Wavers" in 1993. I have that album, and all their other albums, and side projects, etc. If you own any 2 Built to Spill albums, they have to be "There's Nothing Wrong With Love" (1994) and "Perfect From Now On" (1997), but if you have to pare it down to just one--get the 2000 Live album. Because live music is what Built To Spill does best.
So we got kicked out of the special VIP room to make room for some old fogies & some children, but still wrangled a good position to watch the show. Built To Spill ended up playing for about 3 hours, which seems humanly impossible, but these guys are professionals. At about 10:30 they went on stage to preform a live score to an artsy fartsy movie called "The Pink Floyd" as part of the Don't Knock the Rock festival that celebrated the marriage between film & music. I could barely see the film on the screen above the band because a giant chandelier was in my way, but it didn't really matter. BTS rocked out for 45 minutes, jamming along, changing moods, creating an operatic melody. It was great.
After a quick stage shuffeling, the band was back alternating between playing new songs and old favorites. Their old favorites were, of course, fantastic. Their new songs are leaning more and more toward a Neil Young sound. You can't deny that Doug Martsch's vocal stylings are similar to Neil Young's, but the whole sound is getting more "rock" influenced, and less "pop" influenced. This shift is kind of annoying, because if I wanted to listen to Neil Young, I would, but most of the time I don't. Overall, they were fantastic.
Ooooo--there were 2 opening bands. I didn't catch the name of thei 1st band, and it's not on any website that I could find, but I think that they were an LA band and they were interesting. We saw their last 3 songs. In the 3rd from last the singer sounded like Sammy Hagar and the song was very glam, which was great. The 2nd from last song was about how the singer spilled grape juice on his girlfriend & was pretty mediocre, but sounded more honest. And the final song sounded just like the Police, and I hate the Police.
The other opening band was LA's Secret Society of the Sonic Six who are 3 guys who are really hard to describe. How about: Electonic rock with lots of falsetto. Electroclash. No Wave. They were pretty good, but I think that the sound was a bit too challenging for a lot of the audience. But that's not their fault.
Built to Spill: Recommended as always