While preparing for a jog, one stretches their muscles and warms up. During Spoon’s concert on Thursday, it felt as though both the audience and the band were in a constant state of anticipation, slowly tying their sneaker laces before finding that endorphin-releasing energy experienced at concerts.
The five-piece indie rock group made their way onto the Orpheum stage to a hum of synth that rolled into their tune “Do I Have to Talk You Into It,” a track off their new album, Hot Thoughts. They were preceded by Chicago-based band Twin Peaks, who charmed with their classic hipster indie band feels. The funky clanks of Spoon’s keyboard and classic rock drum beats started the set off to a groovy start.
Following the introduction, after which frontman Britt Daniel said they would play old tracks from their nine-album repertoire, as well as a few off of their March release, the hip-swaying notes of their well-known jam “Inside Out” kept mild excitement alive. Daniel stole the show, his face contorting into all sorts of expressions as he raised his guitar to emphasize each punchy note in the ditty and perched one foot on a speaker like a true rockstar while the other band members crowded behind him.
This is when the energy became stagnant, when Daniel’s strained vocals belted several songs that sounded so similar they ran seamlessly together. The band had minimal interaction with the crowd outside of the occasional quip from Daniel — he said he loved the city of Madison about three songs in. Between songs, where banter and cheers usually are, there was always a strange moment of silent darkness instead. Even simpler was their stage — a wall of lights that loomed behind the musicians — it was mostly still during performances and only changed colors between songs. Emerald greens and deep blues shaded the band in darkness for the entirety of their set, which may have added to the redundancy noticeable by the crowd who no longer bopped along as much to the beat. The love of their music was evident in the performers, but their entertainment factor could have more closely matched the new upbeat vibes found on Hot Thoughts.
Finally, the crowd was jolted into movement again when the fast-paced indie pop banger “Do You” was strummed. At this point, they also added flashing lights and the band members seemed to be rejuvenated, thrashing their heads and limbs around to the rhythm. They finished strong after getting into the concert groove and jamming through more new songs, “Can I Sit Next to You” and “I Ain’t the One,” which featured a noisy instrumental break that got the crowd dancing more. They squeezed in “The Underdog” from their 2007 record Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga towards the end, which I would consider their most fun jam, and got the audience to sing along.
Spoon may have been trying a new mood, making sure all the focus was on their music, separating their physical being within the performance by hiding in low lighting and keeping conversation with the crowd to a minimum. The songs, though, were well-played; the experience of 24 years of doing this was obvious in Daniel’s showmanship. Though the music was polished, and that is what’s important, the infectious excitement of performing for a crowd may have grown old despite the refreshing tones of their new music.