What is it that leads to some bands flaming out, while others are able to continue on for decades? I recently had the chance to see a band that falls in the latter category, and in doing so learned what it takes to keep the indie rock flame alive.
From the beginning of the show at Albuquerque's Launchpad, it was clear that Doug Martsch has kept Built To Spill going for all these years. From their Idaho start way back in 1993, Martsch has been the driving force behind Built To Spill, and he continues to lead the band with his laser like focus and intensity during the show.
All of what has made Built To Spill a great indie rock behind was on full display throughout the evening, with Martsch's witty lyrics, plenty of guitar heroics, and a band that proves that experience leads to a super tight sound. Martsch was the conductor as they effortlessly switched gears from song-to-song, playing tunes inspired by jam-band, indie rock, and even metal. Not unlike an out-of-control train, they somehow managed to stay on the tracks and just continue to build speed as they played through their set.
The highlight of the show came at the encore when the band played a rocking cover of "(D0n't Fear) The Reaper" by Blue Ã–yster Cult. They nailed the song note for note -- no simple task, as all you classic rock aficionados know. Their cover was complete with a little help from the frontman of Junior Rocket Scientist (the opening band) supplying just the right amount of cowbell.
They then closed out with two classic tracks, "Big Dipper" off of There's Nothing Wrong With Love and "Joyride" off of The Normal Years. I felt like I was back in the hey-day of indie rock, dancing and singing along with a couple hundred of my closest friends.
Built to Spill proved that they've still got it after all these years, and that they don't plan on slowing down anytime soon. And for all of your European shufflers, the band will be starting an international tour starting in September in Madrid. You can check out all of their tour dates here.