Built to Spill
Feb. 23, 2012
Better than: Headbanging and singing along with the guitar solos on Perfect From Now On by yourself in a car with shitty speakers.
At the intersection of “excruciatingly shy” and “legitimate guitar god” on a Venn diagram, there's some fine company to be had: Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page, one might say. But for those of us raised on melancholy mid-'90s indie rock with lyrics about dreams and social anxiety and how big you thought dinosaurs were when you were a little kid, Built to Spill's Doug Martsch — with his unique ability to look embarrassed for accidentally almost smiling while playing a ridiculously intricate solo — reigns supreme.
“Thanks very much, that was really fun to play for you guys,” Martsch said quickly, in one of his most verbose moments of last night. The “that” in question was a 10-minute, jammed-out version of “Stab,” off There's Nothing Wrong With Love, in which he and guitarists Jim Roth and Brett Netson took turns pushing the song to its sonic limit against a crashing wave of reverb before veering neatly back toward its original, danceable riff as an ending. Another center spot on a Venn diagram, if you will: Built to Spill is a gorgeous jam band for people who don't generally like jam bands (ahem).
For almost two hours straight at the Fillmore last night (minus the time it takes to say “Hey, thanks a lot” in between songs), Martsch — looking for all intents and purposes like someone's sorta-cool dad, in jeans and a T-shirt with a picture of a cat on it (?) — guided the five-piece band from Boise through a set that zig-zagged across two decades and seven albums.