Built to Spill - live in Allston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Built to Spill

live in Allston (2015)

live show

Built to Spill had just gotten into the swing of things when I arrived at Brighton Music Hall at about 10:35, 10 minutes ahead of schedule. No biggie--they were right in the middle of opener "Three Years Ago Today". I'm not sure if the show sold out (it wasn't when doors opened), but it looked damn close; it was packed to the gills and the best spot I could get was around the dead center of the floor. You forget that a band sticks around for almost 25 years and they might build an enduring fanbase that really love you: People were hooting and hollering in adoration throughout the set, and there was even something of a mosh pit up front during one point. There was also one very ecstatic sort-of crowdsurfer (he was kind of just held up in one place for a minute) with an enormous grin on his face, to the bemusement of no one (especially guitarist Brett Netson, who glanced at him with a look of mild annoyance).

This was the first of three nights they were doing at the Allston, Massachusetts, venue (tonight they were competing with Battles down the road at the Paradise, in fact), two of which are part of a Fenway Recordings Session series. I'd consider myself a BtS fan for sure, but I'm only familiar with roughly half their catalog. Fortunately, that's enough to know about nine songs a night on this tour they're doing. The count for tonight was 10, so I was A-OK with it. This included straight stunners from their back catalog like "Carry the Zero", "Kicked It in the Sun" and "Big Dipper", and a trio from their new standout album, Untethered Moon. We didn't get a "How Soon Is Now?" cover like Brooklyn did, but alas.

Their performance was, frankly, inspiring; I saw them at Boston Calling in 2014, sure, and they were good then; same for when I saw them at the Crazy Donkey on Long Island in 2010. But they were just on point here, locked in and playing extremely tight while Doug Martsch maintained his trademark shake at the mic, doing that funny, loose head bob he does. The rest of the band did exactly what they wanted, focused in on their instruments and jamming away, riffing hard on the extended instrumental passages while various artwork drawings projected on the wall behind them. It was stripped down and pretension-free, with just a nice visual to complement the environment. Martsch was warm to the crowd with sincere thanks, with a long encore that included a solo song of his and a pretty epic "Untrustable/Part 2 (About Someone Else)" closer.

Set list