It was the night of the first snow of the season and seeing Built to Spill in Olympia at the Capitol theater seemed like the ideal situation for the night. Something was in the air; this was a special kind of show. Maybe its because of Olympia, while it seems like BTS grew up along this coast, it does seem like a rarity, or a treat, to have them play outside of Seattle. Shows in Olympia are always a little more out of the ordinary, as the people around here act in their own way all the time, often resulting in strange circumstances. The opening bands were a three piece named Scarf who played fast/wild/goofy punk songs. Their lead singer jumped around and yelled about how much she hated Oprah while the rest of the band had their shirts off screaming alongside her. The other band was K Record’s Calvin Johnson’s current band The Hive Dwellers, who played without microphones, which seemed odd because CJ has a very recognizable voice, but without cords holding him back he was able to swing and dance without any restraints. (Hey, weren’t Doug Martsch and CJ in the Halo Benders together?)
Tonight’s show was a benefit concert for Friends of Mia, an organization helping local families dealing with childhood cancer. We were presented with a film introducing us to Mia are were encouraged to donate money. For more information check out their site: http://www.friendsofmia.org/about/
Built to Spill’s sound represents Pacific Northwest Indie Rock; they could be your cool uncle, the guy who shows up with his big heavy beard, ready to be himself and get real. They come out with more modest than any other band, despite them being together for almost twenty years, they still do all of their own setting up and sound checking. When they’re ready to play, they look at each other and start playing. There is no big curtain call, or bell, or announcement. Built to Spill is here to play some good music, and they’re going to do it their way, which is totally real, and nothing special.
They opened with ‘The Plan’ but their set was all over the board, which is one plus about seeing a band as real as BTS, is that they could play anything off any of their albums. Some of the standouts were ‘Car’ which they played very close to the beginning, ‘Untrustable pt. 2’ and ‘You Were Right’. They sounded sharp and LOUD the whole show. Their guitar playing is always what stands out the most, as their songs drive with all sorts of pinches and squeezie guitar notes, but stands tall and powerful.
After they played their last song, we demanded an encore, but it was strange because the band packed up their equipment and left. Were they really not going to do an encore? Doug Martsch eventually came out with just his acoustic guitar and played three grand and personal songs. THEN a new drummer and bassist came out, and Calvin Johnson came out of the crowd and got up on stage. WE WERE SEEING A HALO BENDERS REUNION!
Halo Benders played for about thirty minutes, a whole set, and the whole thing was exciting. Calvin Johnson prances around the stage, not worrying at all what he looks or sounds like, only that he is entertaining. Wayne and Ralf switched instruments after a few songs (drums and bass). And Doug was Doug, playing and singing in his usually style. In the middle of one of the songs, CJ reminded us the lack of media attention to the war that has been going on for almost 10 years and encouraged us to spread it to our neighbors. They closed with their goofy ‘Don’t Touch My Bikini’.
I was right, it was a special night.
Here's a recording of Doug Martsch playing Dream from the show [found at http://lettersmixtape.blogspot.com/]
Doug Martsch - Dream
Doug Martsch - Dream