Along with the likes of Pavement and Modest Mouse; Built to Spill are one of Indie’s most revered bands that never made as big of a mark as they should have. Coming to the Workman’s Club for an incredibly rare set (the band last played Ireland over eight years ago) and playing to a sold-out crowd, the band outlines the reasons why so many fell in love with them in the first place.
The band opened up with You Were Right, which I found to be an odd choice seeing as it’s one of their slower cuts. I wasn’t complaining though - they played it in a way that was almost exact to the recorded version, the only differences being that Doug Martsch’s voice has aged like a fine wine and the rhythm section has changed up a bit.
As the performance was in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of their 1999 masterpiece “Keep It Like a Secret,” the setlist mostly consisted of tracks from that record as well as other cuts from their vast back catalogue. Usually, I’m averse to anniversary tours as I find them to be a gimmick to play on people’s nostalgia; but I’m making a big exception here because an album as perfect and seminal as KILAS is not something that comes about often.
It was absolutely blissful to hear songs like The Plan, Sidewalk, Bad Light and Temporarily Blind being played in front of me. It was evident that the band had rehearsed these songs to death because it would be easy for others to fuck up their complex guitar work in the slightest degree. This was made clear during their rendition of Broken Chairs, a track that’s already nine minutes in length that they managed to extend with an amalgamation of guitar soloing that would make the most experienced of players look twice.
The biggest surprise of the set was when they played a cover of R.E.M’s Harborcoat. It was a surprise because I didn’t expect it at all and had they not announced it was a R.E.M. track then I wouldn’t have noticed at all because it suited them perfectly.
The only gripes I had with the performances is that the vocal mix wasn’t as high as I would have liked and the fact they didn’t play Carry The Zero is a crime but I’ll let it slide until I (hopefully) see them again sometime soon. Other than that - Built To Spill surpassed my expectations more than I could say! It was a beautifully intimate set and a showcase of why they shouldn’t just be on people’s tongues when they think of best Indie bands from the ‘90s, but of all time!
Starting next year, they’re doing a mammoth 80+ date tour of the US in support of the Keep It Like A Secret anniversary. So if you get the chance to see them then please do so immediately as you probably won’t get the chance to again / for a long time.