The 90’s indie rock thirst-quencher known as Built to Spill poured themselves into Brooklyn Bowl for one of three NYC-area performances and wowed a sold-out crowd of fans and Johnny-come-latelies alike. The Boise, Idaho band fronted by guitarist Doug Martsch, started off in the early 90’s, but came into major indie prominence mid-decade signing to the majors with Warner Brothers. However, they made it clear that they’d bow to no label pressures to become a popular indie product. Thusly, despite having some college radio hits, they always managed to lurk just outside the rock mainstream. The band never officially broke up, and despite often taking a few years off between projects (that were often filled with Martsch’s genius solo works), they are still going strong all these years later. This time around, BTS are a power trio with drummer Steve Gere and bassist Jason Albertini joining, and they have an intoxicating new disc Untethered Moon that has become one of my favorite releases of this year.
The Philly multi-instrumentalist Alexander Giannascoli, better known as Alex G, opened the show with a full band effort and an entrancing set of easily accessible experimental indie. After years turning out bandcamp-style releases, he finally hit epic album gold with last year’s Beach Music. Although the studio material made me think more of Massive Attack, on stage, he and his band reminds me more of the 90’s rock like Pavement or Sebadoh, and that made for a very nice mixer with the headliner.
Next was another Philadelphia band called Hop Along and they also have been around several years and have a tasty indie rock flavor. Frontwoman and guitarist Frances Quinlan gave the slight punk edge to what is an overall scrumptious indie-folk sound with some surprising and whipping bass-stomp rhythm changes. They also released a favorable cocktail of an album last year with a strange blend of influences called Painted Shut. They also blew me over with their cover of The Weeknd’s “The Hills.”
Doug Martsch doesn’t utter many words on stage, rarely even making eye contact with the audience, but he always lets the music do the talking. Sure, his music resembles many of his 90’s cohorts like Dinosaur Jr., Pavement, and Superchunk, as well as hail back to a certain 70’s rock sound of heroes like CCR, Thin Lizzy, and Neil Young. Yet, his total mastery of his axe howls and soaring vocal harmonies set his music apart. He controls the long jam like a king of the sonic mélange, leading the band into an almost improvised-sounding charge, even though you know he has complete command of its outcome. The stripped down appeal of the power trio actually even added more to his raw no-nonsense rocking palate. I hoped to hear more new songs, as I have come to really love the new album, but when you’ve seen them enough you’ll know not to expect what they’ll end up playing at any given show. I do believe the newest song in the set was the splendid rocker “Goin’ Against Your Mind” from 2006’s You in Reverse. They also cranked out classic favorites like “Carry the Zero,” “The Plan,” “Big Dipper,” and “Car” along with a surprising cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Effigy.”
Article: Dean Keim