Britt Daniel has gazed at tens of thousands of people at Zilker Park on several occasions over the past two decades, likely finding himself amazed at the size of his group Spoon since its genesis in the mid-90s in Austin nightclubs. . But he may never have shown an air of gratitude on his face like he did Thursday night in front of some 800 fans at the Mohawk.
“It was one of the most beautiful encounters we have ever had,” Daniel told the crowd in a few songs in a 75-minute set on a hot summer night at the outdoor hall of the Red River Cultural. District. “We wanted to throw this party tonight because Austin’s spirit is at full blast.”
These returns to action for our big local names have followed one another regularly for a few weeks, first with The Black Pumas’ Five Night Race at Stubb’s end of May then with The triumphant re-emergence of Shakey Graves in one place in mid-June. (Next up is Gary Clark Jr., who will make his first appearance in Austin since the pandemic began to abate when he plays at Antone’s, the downtown blues club he co-owns, on July 15. )
For Daniel, going back to his roots in Live Music Capital’s legendary club scene clearly meant a lot. Spoon has been big enough to play in big venues and festivals for almost two decades now, but they’ve gotten used to those hometown subplayers in recent years, offering glimpses of new material with club gigs. quickly organized.
the Thursday concert was announced on Wednesday morning. Hundreds of fans lined up at the Mohawk box office to pay $ 20 in cash (or $ 23.17 with a credit card) for up to two tickets each. The sale – designed to reward those who went the extra mile and to turn down scalpers – was a joyous occasion in itself, even with the midday heat. a line that spanned two blocks for a few hours. Mohawk staff distributed water to those who waited, and fans have met friends online they may not have seen since the pandemic began.
A publication on social networks by Twitter user @IshmaelRJohnson indicated that the ticketing event, which dated back to an era before selling online, provided precisely the return spirit that Daniel was probably looking for: “A surprise show of Spoon having a queue for tickets shows that the real Austin is still in this town somewhere. “
Spoon has been working on a new album since the start of the pandemic, but Thursday’s set was a long throwback. The crowd was thrilled with a set from all of Spoon’s albums since 2001.
Spoon performs “Rent I Pay”, more in a surprise show
Highlights included “My Mathematical Mind” (from “Gimme Fiction” from 2005), “Don’t You Evah” (from “Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga” from 2007), “Got Nuffin” (from “Transference” by 2010) and “Inside Out” (from 2014 “They Want My Soul”). Coverings of Smog (“Held”) by Bill Callahan and John Lennon (“Isolation”) from the Plastic Ono Band era completed the ensemble.
Daniel, dressed in a white t-shirt and jeans, switched between electric and acoustic guitars, ditching both on a few acts to let the band lead the day behind his vocals. With co-founder drummer Jim Eno, Spoon’s current lineup includes keyboardist / guitarist Alex Fischel, who has been with the band since 2013, and more recent recruits Gerardo Larios (guitar / keyboards) and Ben Trokan (bass).
“We have one more! Daniel screamed with such energy and ecstasy as he and the band began a catchy rendition of “Rent I Pay” to close the show at 10:30 pm. The obligatory “Austin, Texas, we love you!” follow-up, but it was not a “Hello Cleveland” formality; one could say that this came directly from the heart.
Local indie rocker Walker Lukens opened with a half-hour set that focused on material from his recent release “Red Headed Strangers”. Willie Nelson’s cover album, recorded during the pandemic, was sold through Bandcamp to benefit the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.
Lukens’ six-piece backing team has helped bring Nelson tunes such as “Pretend I Never Happened” and “I Gotta Get Drunk” into territory far beyond country music, to the point that some in the crowd may not have known that the songs were from Willie’s catalog. But everyone recognized the set’s closing number, “On the Road Again”. And even though this was a concert in their hometown that didn’t involve going down the freeway, it was clear that for the local musicians who are finally picking up the beat, the life they love is to make. music with their friends.