There’s nothing like a good rock concert to bring all the age demographics of Madison’s concert scene together.
Deeply influential indie band Built to Spill reigned in a crowd of all ages Monday night at High Noon Saloon, from summer-straggling college students, to Epic employee twenty-somethings, all the way to folks who probably have been listening to the band since they first hit the scene in the 90s. The way the quintessential dad-rock band performed, it’s likely no one went home disappointed.
Built to Spill’s own stage presence added to the timeless vibes of the show. Despite their undeniable lineage and relatively large fame for an indie band, they didn’t act like playing at a venue of the High Noon Saloon’s small size was beneath them. Rather, there was a professional nonchalance about them, and they put on a show with the consistent quality that only a group with more than two decades of experience could maintain.
But first, Massachusetts band Love as Laughter served as a near-perfect opener, warming up the crowd with a similar sound to Built to Spill, while offering just enough contrast to keep things fresh. Their music was a cool mish-mosh of genres, featuring blusy guitars, punky vocals and funky drums to create a fresh, nostalgic and especially good live sound.
A quick 30 minutes after Love as Laughter’s departure, Built to Spill picked up the mantle for what would be an unforgettable two-ish hours of classic indie rock.
While it was easy to tell that Monday was not anything especially exciting for the members of Built to Spill, the quality of their music and performance ability made the night special for anyone who was there. Quietly exchanging knowing glances between tracks, the band played extended versions of all their songs with face-melting guitar solos coming seemingly every five minutes from frontman Doug Martsch.
Members of the audience of every age swayed, bobbed heads and murmured words along as if in trances. One person in the front row even stared intently at Martsch like it was the first time she ever heard music — one could hardly blame her.
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Over the course of their long set (especially for a Monday night) the indie band covered their entire discography, paying special attention to their hits. The pop was noticeable when they dug up their most famous song “Carry the Zero” toward the end.
Every instrument played during the show felt melodic, evidenced by the bass player using a pick instead of his fingers to strum. And Martsch showed his mastery of the guitar with his frequent solos, which were all equally distinct and complex.
To those who haven’t seen this legendary band yet, do it. Considering how long they’ve been performing, there might not be too many shows like Monday night’s left in their future.