Doug Martsch is angry.
Nearing the end of a seemingly enjoyable set Tuesday night at Brooklyn’s venue of pleasing, Polish pride, Warsaw, egomachine Martsch decided to dose the crowd with a dash of not so subtle political rhetoric. A short 10 minute film narrated by Calvin Johnson depicting the injustices of (you guessed it) the Bush administration and their war on ecoterrorists was played on a medium sized screen and soundtracked by an instrumental Halo Benders tune. Some people clapped, some people scowled and a drunk guy did the unimaginable…he hurled a plastic cup at the stage.
In the realm of rowdy crowd antics this was no Altamont. Hell, the cup wasn’t even full. But for a good 60-90 seconds Martsch was seriously perturbed and would continue to bring up the event approximately 3 more times before the night was over demanding to know who the culprit was so he didn’t “sign that fuckin’ dude’s ticket or something.”
“He should just stick to the music,” quipped a sheepish crowd member.
When they weren’t turning the venue into a ad hoc political rally, Martsch and the gang were truly at their best displaying pieces of work from their ciritcally acclaimed You In Reverse and nearly every album that came before it. “Traces” kicked off the evening with an extended bridge highlighted by the Spill’s massive three guitar irruption. Built to Spill always had a knack for birdging the gap between the empty-headed jam band fans and the hipsters of various zip codes throughout the USA and their live show attendees and performances reiterate this notion thoroughly. For every cloud of pot smoke and dreadlocks there was a mop of unkempt hair and youth medium t shirts. And for everry jangled, Pavement inspired pop selection (“Big Dipper”) The Spill didn’t so much counter as they complemented themselves with drawn out, thoughtful classics (“Kicked It In The Sun”). More recent cuts such as the masterful “Conventional Wisdom” bled the ears of all those listening in the most wonderful of ways and a cover of the anti-war song “Rearrange” by the obscure but seminal reggae outfit the Gladiators let the spotlight shine soley on Martsch and swayed the crowd both east and west. The Spill also premiered two brand new songs (titles withheld) both in a familar and playful vein and intensified by signature, caustic guitar lines. Fan favorite “Carry the Zero” ended the set and Doug being Doug didn’t even bother to leave the stage prior to the encore opting to stay it alone admist the hoot and hollers of his fans and play with his projector set up. When the other band members decided to rejoin their bearded leader on stage they launched into a self-serving version of “Randy Described Eternity” that was marred by more noise than melody and carried on close to 30 minutes or as a fan put it, 3-4 other songs’ length.
By the show’s end my subway line was down and I somehow wound up in Bushwick talking with an ex-convict about urban plight and how giving him my ATM card won’t solve the bigger problems. But all in all I can’t complain and even if I could, my whines and sighs are nothing compared to Doug’s.