Thursday, March 25, 2010

Spoon-Fed and Satisfied

Can you really have too much music in one evening?

And what about if some of it is unintentional; what if you just stumble into music before your planned music?

And aren't I the wrong person to pose this question to?

Our challenge was a limited amount of time to eat before going to see Spoon at the National tonight.

I wanted to catch at least part of the first opening band and all of the second, so we didn't have much time and decided to choose a place between my house and the venue, a distance of less than a dozen blocks.

That's how we ended up at Marshall Street Cafe, a restaurant I hadn't eaten at in at least a year and a half.

It's small but attractive with white tablecloths and flowers on the tables.

And, as we found out on walking in, they had live music tonight.

It was a three-piece, consisting of Skip Gailes on keyboard and sax, Wayne Short on guitar and Kat on vocals, which were mostly from the Great American Songbook.

I wasn't familiar with her, but the other two have been around for ages and their talent is already a given.

Given some excellent happy hour specials on beverages, including $2 off on any appetizer, I was surprised that more people were eating than drinking.

I ordered the tarragon chicken salad on a bed of mixed greens and my friend got a Philly Cheese Steak, but helped himself to my excellent chicken salad while I scored a few of his sauteed onions.

Both dishes were tasty and satisfying and they helpfully got us in and out quickly.

As we walked in, we caught the last few notes of the Strange Boys, so I can't really speak to their performance at all.

A musician friend there dismissed them as "fifties-sounding rock; both of us were eagerly anticipating hearing Deerhunter, though.

And they didn't disappoint with their significantly pop version of shoegaze and post-punk.

The first few songs stayed closer to the pop realm and then they were off and running with their more ambient punk sound.

Around this time, the guy standing next to me in an already overcrowded room struck up a conversation and within five minutes, we had discovered our three degrees of separation.

It's so true that you barely have to scratch the surface in RVA to discover mutual acquaintances and unexpected connections.

In this case, we had a radio connection (he's till in it); he somehow even knew one of my exes from the early '90s and pulled his name out of thin air.

What are the chances?

Then it was Spoon time and since they define the band's sound as simply as 'rock and roll,' we got an evening of rock and roll.

Britt Daniel started on the stage alone with his guitar (as my friend noted, "That takes balls."), then was augmented by the keyboard player and soon the entire band, which, after seventeen years, were incredibly tight.

The thrill for me was hearing his voice with its gravely resonance; the charming grin doesn't hurt, either.

As expected (finally!) it was a sold-out show, although most fans seemed to be of the fairly recent variety, reacting most strongly to the most recent material.

Of course, there were a number of people there for some reason other than to hear the music, including two guys who simply walked a path through the masses the entire evening, every ten minutes or so, they looped around by us again.

Personally, I was thrilled to hear "Everything Hits at Once" from 2001's Girls Can Tell.

They ended their encore with what is undoubtedly one of their hardest rocking songs, "Jonathon Fisk" from 2002's Kill the Moonlight, scoring major points with long-time fans in the audience.

For me, it just capped off a superb evening of music that began at dinner.

Because, the truth is, I really can't have too much music, especially when I can incorporate dinner and making new friends into the mix.

Or, as Spoon would sing, "That's just how we get by."

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