Concert review: Built to Spill at the State Theatre (with setlist + photos)

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Built to Spill opened with the sprawling early 90's sound of "Kicked it in the Sun," instantly satisfying an older crowd filled with long-time fans, and giving a taste of what was to come from the rest of the evening. Although last year's There Is No Enemy received favorable press, their set on this evening was filled with mostly older songs.

[image-1]"You Were Right" featured some slide guitar from Jim Roth, and was really the first song of the evening where the interwoven guitars made a huge impression on me, Martch's lead inducing the first massive reaction from the crowd. A cover of the Grateful Dead's "Ripple" was another highlight, as I've only heard the original acoustic version. Built to Spill graciously amped up the guitars to provide something entirely unique, Roth's slide guitar lending a lovely country twang. Throughout the evening, Martsch was perfectly on-pitch, sounding remarkably like the studio versions I've become so familiar with.

The set closed with crowd favorite, "Carry the Zero," and its multiple overlaid guitar elements, before an encore featuring few songs from Martch's solo release.

Though overall, the band's tendency to lose themselves in jams and extended meandering created some drastic highs and lows, they certainly know how to keep the crowd's interest. Note to other '90s bands still touring and releasing: THIS is how it's done.


Kicked It in the Sun

In the Morning

Three Years Ago Today

Life's a Dream


You Were Right

Ripple (Grateful Dead cover)

Twin Falls


Hind Sight

Wherever You Go


Carry the Zero



The Weather


Broken Chairs

More pics by Tracy

Revolt Revolt


Built To Spill


After way too many years of waiting to see Built to Spill, I arrived at St. Petersburg's State Theatre on Saturday night with a fairly good idea of what to expect. Too often, I've seen early '90s bands dial in a performance of fan-favorites, their technical skill lazied up by years of playing the same songs ad nauseum. Built to Spill, however, is not your typical Northwestern one-act-show. They're one of those rare bands that continue to turn out new favorites with every release, making music that's relevant to the present instead of remaining trapped in the past. I'd heard their live show would be loud, technically impressive, and somewhat subdued; the band delivered on every accord. [Frontman Doug Martsch pictured left; all photos by Tracy May.]

Typically, if I don't have anything nice to say about an opening band I'll just omit them from a review entirely, but I hated Revolt Revolt so much that it's worth mentioning. Given, I tend not to enjoy punk rock very much, so coming into the State and hearing it already had me grinding my teeth. Fortunately, a friend had warned me that Built to Spill put on the loudest show he has ever seen and to bring earplugs, which I gratefully jammed as far into my skull as possible. The set also included a Pixie-esque ballad which normally would be right up my alley, except vocalist Chris Bock was so miserably off-key that it was just unbearable. This was immediately followed by a song which drove me back out into the lobby with unbearably loud howling, hoping desperately Built to Spill would quickly take the stage.

Built to Spill came onstage to set up their own equipment, which I always see as an indicator of professionalism and modesty, especially from a band on a major label (Warner Bros). Even the relatively unadorned stage provided an unexpected straightforward element, bare save for a cluster of tropical plants a friend of the band had provided.

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