Built to Spill | Photo by Matthew Shaver | brightloud.com

“I can’t get that sound you made out of my head” – Built To Spill on “I Would Hurt A Fly”

Not that I’ve been trying to get their sound out of my head, but it’s been nearly 20 years and I consistently find myself humming a Built To Spill tune once or twice a week (and after nearly 20 years, some of the lyrics remain just as cryptic.)  Going to a Built To Spill show was a little bittersweet for me, as it ended a sort of unspoken embargo I had on them.  Perfect From Now On, Keep It Like A Secret, and Ancient Melodies of The Future were (and still are) a holy trinity of albums.  Released in rapid succession they became my intro to the world of what would eventually be called “Indie Rock” (wether lovingly or spitefully).  But, it was 5 long years before the next album, You In Reverse, and for one reason or another, I never got around to it, or There Is No Enemy.

Flash forward to 2015 and I found myself in a unique position to actually go and see them, and so I binged.  I had never stopped listening to those oh-so-special albums, but I looped the new ones for a few days.  It was like catching up with an old friend I hadn’t seen in a decade, only to realize nothing had changed.  So I headed to the show with a big old grin on my face and sat amongst the packed crowd of Union Transfer and awaited my turn to say “Good to see you old friend.”

It was a welcoming crowd too.  Greeting the iconic Doug Martsch with the same fervor a tween may have greeted Ms. Swift, the walls-of-guitar sound they have been crafting for decades adorned the floor, bar, and balcony and was not pulled back until shows end.  Reverb drenched jams, that famous high pitched croon, and way more fanfare than I expected from the relatively young crowd.

Not a group to do things half-assed, they kicked off with the epic “Goin’ Against Your Mind” before going waaaay back to “Distopian Dream Girl”  Not content to make the show a sales pitch for their newest album,Untethered Moon, they didn’t get to a new song until they were 3 deep, with “So” and the remainder of the night was a mishmash of old and new.  A wonderful sing-along rendition of “I Would Hurt A Fly” and “Carry The Zero” (at least where I was standing), and a beautiful cover of The Smiths hit, “How Soon Is Now” were just icing on the cake of a near perfect evening of guitar driven rock n roll.

First act Clarke and The Himselfs was a modern one man band.  Fuzzed out guitar, simple, but ample drum beats, and vocals that sounded like they were underwater, the 1 man garage act was a fitting opener for the night.

Helvetia has been a pet project of BTS member Jason Albertini, but don’t confuse them as a BTS knock off band.  They brought their own spin on the famous Northwest sound that might have them likened more to early Modest Mouse with a bit of 764-Hero thrown in for luck.  It was a good night for rock and a long time coming for me.  Well worth every moment.