Monday, November 16, 2009

Built to Spill at the Middle East Night 3

On October 11, 2009, I caught the third night of Built to Spill's three night run at the Middle East in Cambridge, MA. I've seen a lot of concerts this year and have spoken highly about many of them but this is the one that will probably go down as my favorite. I hate to use the old cliché but seeing Built to Spill live is the closest a concert is going to come to a religious experience. The band's triple-guitar attack on indie rock is tailor-made for the stage and should be witnessed by anyone who considers themselves a fan of guitar-centric rock and roll. It could easily make a believer of even the most jaded music critic. To top things off, this particular night was the night to see if you were a long time Built to Spill fan. It was chocked full of my personal favorites as well as well known classics. The set lists for all three dates can be found at

The band set the bar as high as it could go with their opener of "You Were Right" yet still managed to topple it latter in the night. Doug Martsch took the stage spouting the clever classic rock referencing lyrics such as "You were right when you said you can't always get what you want" in his instantly recognizable timbre while his bandmates surrounded him by a wall of guitars. The solo and danceable breaks in the tune established it as the ultimate way to open a show. After they finished the song, there was a short lull in response before the audience erupted in applause. I can say that I had never before seen an audience simultaneously have their minds blown in such an overt way. The band didn't stop there. Every song was just as powerful as preceding one. Built to Spill have a certain formula that their songs follow but it works so well; especially live. Each song contained captivating verses that were followed by a long spacey jam and ended in a torrent of guitars and energy.

Most of what made this night so special was the flawless set list that spanned their entire catalog. New songs such as "Hindsight" sounded perfectly natural next to standards like "Else". There were also plenty of those moments for diehard fans that had people exclaiming "I never thought I would get to hear that!" For me that was the closing trio of "Distopian Dream Girl", "Carry the Zero", and "Nowhere Nothing Fuckup". The introspective and philosophical lyrics in these songs are what set Built to Spill apart from most bands in their realm. Doug Martsch's memorably eccentric mannerisms and modest responses of "Thanks" only added to the atmosphere of the experience.

Set List:

1. You Were Right
2. Hindsight
3. Stab
4. Else
5. Randy Described Eternity
6. Joyride
7. Kicked It in the Sun
8. Wherever You Go
9. Distopian Dream Girl
10. Carry the Zero
11. Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup
12. The Weather
13. Planting Seeds
14. Goin' Against Your Mind

The previous time I had seen the band was at the Orpheum when they performed their flagship album Perfect from Now on in its entirety. I can confidently say that they had outdone said performance and it was much more impressive to see them cover the diverse range of their catalog in one set. Next time they come to town, you can bet I'll be one of the first people to snag a ticket. Below is a link to their new album There Is No Enemy which will inevitably go overlooked by many major publications. If you like what you hear, pick it up! It is on sale at most stores for a measly $6.99.


Below is a video of Built to Spill performing "You Were Right" in Minneapolis, MN June 7th, 2008 which will at least give you a taste of how awesome this song is when performed live.

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