Live Review: Spoon, White Rabbits, Lancaster, PA, April 26, 2009

spoonlive550bMaybe it was the pastoral setting and the subtle effects of methane on the brain, or perhaps it was resentment stirred by the anal security guards and the “No Moshing or Crowd Surfing” sign posted in the entrance, but the crew that gathered to watch Spoon and White Rabbit perform at the Chameleon Club in Lancaster was as kooky as a reality-show judges’ panel. All five hipsters from Lancaster were there, mingling with frat kids from nearby Franklin & Marshall College and quite a few older—I mean some of them were pushing 60—fans.

Opening band White Rabbits are similar to Spoon but with double percussion and better bone structure. The Brooklyn-based sextet (whose upcoming album, It’s Frightening, was produced by Spoon frontman Britt Daniel) flaunted their versatility by trading off instruments mid-song, and their calculus-exam faces matched their keyboard-pounding, drum-smacking intensity.

The pungent head-shop odor I smelled when I first walked in quickly gave way to a mixture of sweat and beer once Spoon took the stage. Right in front of Daniel was a huddle of Lilliputians that I gravitated toward for safety and comfort. (I’m 4’1”.) Anyone over 5’6″ who attempted to block our view was harshly expelled by a spiky-haired hispanic chick who seemed to be the head facilitator of the midget brigade. During “Rhthm & Soul,” a pair of Paul Bunyans muscled to the front, their belt loops roughly level with my line of vision.

Spiky-haired chick: “Where do you think you’re going, Kobe Bryant? Get out of here! You’re like 6’10″—you can see from the bar!”

A veteran rock group like Spoon has a predictably well-honed act and a loyal following who’ll always emerge from a show saying, “Dude, that was freakin’ awesome!” While certainly entertaining, during both the Chameleon Club concert and their 2008 show in Philadelphia, the band doesn’t perform its best songs live. You can’t even attribute this phenomenon to obligatory “new stuff” bands play to promote a recent album, because Ga Ga (etc.) came out two years ago. Spoon sent up the crowd-pleasing “The Underdog,” which I think I heard in every movie trailer I saw last year. But where is “Chicago At Night” or “Telamon Bridge”? The set list played it safe tonight.

—Maureen Coulter

Spoon’s “30 Gallon Tank (Live)” (download):

White Rabbits’ “The Plot” (download):