Last Night: Built to Spill, Finn Riggins and Telegraph Canyon at the Granada Theater

Built to Spill, Finn Riggins, Telegraph Canyon
Granada Theater
August 11, 2010

Better than: your nephew's second birthday.

Last night's showcase at the Granada Theater, which featured performances from Boise's Built to Spill and Finn Riggins, as well as DFW's own Telegraph Canyon, served as a celebration for the theater's sixth anniversary of operation. And six years? Why, that's nothing to shake a stick at.

But to use as joke fodder? Ah: That's another matter entirely.

Indeed: The occasion provided banter for the banterless at last night's affair. You're welcome, Doug Martsch and Co.

"I understand this venue is celebrating an anniversary tonight," the normally tepid Martsch, Built to Spill's frontman, announced to cheers from his audience. "We also are celebrating an anniversary tonight. This is our 100,000th show."

He was kidding, of course--just as he was likely also joking when he corrected himself and announced that it was his band's 1,00th show, a number far closer (and possibly under) his band's actual mark.

But, over the course of Built to Spill's 70-minute main set and 25-minute encore in its headlining slot last night, the Idaho natives indeed performed like the seasoned veterans they are. There's very little flash, and even less exertion--just technical proficiency and professional performance. Nonetheless, with that minimal on-stage movement, the band still manages to sell its sound--and quite well.

The trick is to take note of the little things: The blur that is Martsch's pick hand as it flashes over his strings; bassist Brett Nelson's steady bass playing, which somehow remains impactful, even in the face of three, loud guitars in front of him; Martsch's static headsways while he sings, which almost seem to draw his vocals out from his otherwise occupied body.

And, of course, there is the sound--as relevant these days, some 18 years after the band's formation, as ever--and its undulating, guitar-driven base, which alternately lulls and drones and bounces and bops, eliciting various responses from its listeners. More often that not on this night, that response was pure revelry--pogo-ing, thrusting beer bottles into the air, singing along. From the third song of the night,"You Were Right," and straight on through to the end of the band's encore, it was indeed a celebratory affair.

Good thing, too: Touring openers Finn Riggins didn't do much to captivate this crowd, which has showed early to partake in the venue's celebration and to take in the night's opening set from the consistently enjoyable Telegraph Canyon. Finn Riggins' idea was solid--a sort of prog-ier Matt & Kim--but its execution of such was lacking.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
I own two Built to Spill albums and various singles, and while I enjoy the band's music, I'd hardly consider myself on par with the bulk of last night's fanatical crowd. But I will say this: Their sound, driven by Martsch's playing, is pretty undeniably good.

Random Note: Martsch's beard is noticeably grayer than it was when his band stopped through town last.

By The Way: At Built to Spill's 2009 stop at the Granada, its set was somewhat overshadowed by the loud, lengthy Dinosaur Jr. performance that led into it. No such concern this time around--and the show was better for it.

Set List:
1. Traces
2. Three Years Ago Today
3. You Were Right
4. Fly Around My Pretty Little Miss
5. Nowhere Lullaby
6. Distopian Dream Girl
7. Twin Falls
8. Some
9. Wherever You Go
10. Stab
11. The Weather
12. Hindsight
13. Carry the Zero
14. Randy Described Eternity
15. Car
16. Broken Chairs

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