Thursday, April 27, with doors at 7 p.m.
Soul Kitchen, 219 Dauphin St., www.soulkitchenmobile.com
Tickets: $30 advance/$33 day of show/$50 riser seat; available at Soul Kitchen, its website, Mellow Mushroom (West and Midtown)
or by calling 1-866-777-8932
Each year, South by Southwest (SXSW) attracts throngs of musical acts and industry figures to Austin, the music mecca in the Lone Star State. In addition to scores of out-of-towners, a legion of Austin-based bands with dreams of fortune and glory participate in the numerous showcases held around town. Once upon a time, Spoon was one.
After a decade of hard work, Spoon gained traction on the national scene with its 2005 release, “Gimme Fiction.” Two years later, Spoon followed with the highly successful “Ga Ga Ga Ga,” an album featuring catchy rock anthems such as “Underdog” and “Don’t You Evah.” A devoted worldwide listening audience was forged.
When the group returned to Austin for this year’s SXSW, Spoon was on the cusp of releasing its latest album “Hot Thoughts.” With a three-night stint scheduled for the week, Spoon entertained audiences with the new material and found themselves the masters of their own showcase. Throughout their showcase, Spoon loaded each evening with a number of nationally known and up-and-coming bands, including A Giant Dog, Sweet Spirit, The New Pornographers and Hamilton Leithauser.
“We knew the record would be coming out that same week,” bassist Rob Pope said. “So, we wanted to do something very special, and do something that will be a cool opportunity for us. We’re in the same venue every night for three nights in a row, which is awesome.”
Even though “Hot Thoughts” was released just last month, Spoon’s fans had already been enjoying the album’s lead singles, “Can I Sit Next to You” and the title track. As far as Spoon’s choice of singles to introduce this release, Pope says the decision was left up to the “bigwigs,” who thought these songs would make for a good first impression. Personally, Pope had no argument with their decision.
“They’re both kind of cerebral, weird songs,” Pope said. “They’ve also got some really good pop elements and stick in your head.”
The track “Hot Thoughts,” which has been receiving ample airplay in the Azalea City, was the first tease. Reflecting Spoon’s clean, trademark brand of modern American rock, this single was inspired by frontman/guitarist Britt Daniel’s girlfriend. As the story goes, while staying in Shibuya, Tokyo, she was approached late one night by a horde of drunk businessmen who began hitting on her. Their flirtatious exchange led one of the men to comment on the whiteness of her teeth, which gave birth to lyrics such as “Your teeth shining so white/Light up this side street in Shibuya tonight.”
After Daniel brought a rough demo to the band, the group began shaping the songs into a final product.
“We had a lot of fun putting a lot of other stuff that Britt brought in as the demo,” Pope said. “It jumped out as an immediate song and one everyone kept going back to, which is why I think it ended up being the first song on the record. It was a statement.”
Pope says performing the new material live has generated quite a bit of excitement. For some bands, studio versions of songs are just one interpretation brought on by the sterile and divided studio environment. Before SXSW, Pope says, Spoon had only played the new material live at a couple of previous shows. At that point, he says, they were just getting comfortable performing these songs together as a band, as opposed to recording separate tracks in the studio. Pope also notes the band’s satisfaction receiving instant feedback on the new songs from their audiences.
“It’s been fun for me to get the real-time reaction of people hearing them for the very first time,” Pope said. “So far, that’s been really good. Seeing us melt some people’s brains right in front of me is great.”
The last time Spoon was in the area, it played Hangout Fest. Soul Kitchen will provide a more intimate locale for fans to experience the band’s live show. Pope says he would not have it any other way. While the band’s tour itinerary has a number of festival dates, Pope says the band prefers “ceilings and walls” and the absence of competition with a band performing on another stage.
“We just played a show in London,” Pope said. “All of the reviews that we’ve heard are that people were talking about the show the next day. I think people were shocked at how active and loud and aggressive we were. I think for whatever reason that they thought that we would be this indie rock band, but we played loud and hard.”