It seemed like half of Salt Lake City decided to take in Built to Spill's headlining show at The Urban Lounge on Thanksgiving eve, and I'd guess they were thankful they did.
Doug Martsch and the four guys in his band delivered a thrilling set on the final night of their fall tour, a show full of unexpected covers, a few super-sized guitar jams and some of the best songs the band's back catalog has to offer. The audience was clearly thrilled with the proceedings, and one could even spy an occasional smile on Martsch's face through his scruffy beard as the gig moved along.
Built to Spill opened with two songs from their You in Reverse album, starting with the sprawling "Goin' Against Your Mind," a lengthy tune they often close shows with, and following up with the gorgeous "Liar." "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)," "Living Zoo" and "Reasons" led into a monstrous take on "Center of the Universe," one of Martsch's most undeniably poppy gems.
That burst of songs led to the first surprise of the night, a note-perfect cover of Pavement's "Here." Martsch proved the ideal voice to take on the delicate ballad, and it made for a nice segue to the bombastic tune "The Plan."
Guitarist and backup singer Brett Netson took over lead vocals after a run through "Mess with Time," taking on what the Internet reports was a cover of Captain Beefheart's "Abba Zaba." I'm no Beefheart authority, so I'll assume that's right--and add that Netson added a little Donny and Marie scatting to the end of the tune before Martsch took the reins again.
The band closed out the set with a run through "Big Dipper," "Velvet Waltz" and "Carry the Zero" before having members of the opening bands Slam Dunk and Genders join the band on stage for some cowbell assistance on encore covers like Blue Oyster Cult's "(Don't Fear) the Reaper," The Clash's "Train in Vain" and The Smiths' "How Soon is Now?" It was a joyful way to end the show, and the musicianship on stage made for incredible takes on those old classics.
We get spoiled with the number of Built to Spill shows that happen in SLC, thanks to the band's Boise home base, but this Thanksgiving eve show in 2013 will certainly be remembered among fans as one of the best. That's how I'll remember it.