Looks like Ghostface is hanging out back there.

Not to come off as That Guy, but I've seen Spoon at least five times now, and last night's CD101 For The Kids benefit show at LC Pavilion was hardly the most memorable. The band was its usual self, chugging through a couple dozen tunes with minimal banter and their trademark blend of loose, freewheeling pop and pent-up punk energy. Only after years' worth of fandom would one complain about such solid musicians playing such great songs. That said, I'm going to complain a little bit. Though it was delivered with as much skill and conviction as ever, this performance lacked the luster of some of the other sets I've seen from the Austin quartet. And if it does stick out someday, it will probably be for two reasons.

Looks like Ghostface is hanging out back there.

Not to come off as That Guy, but I've seen Spoon at least five times now, and last night's CD101 For The Kids benefit show at LC Pavilion was hardly the most memorable. The band was its usual self, chugging through a couple dozen tunes with minimal banter and their trademark blend of loose, freewheeling pop and pent-up punk energy. Only after years' worth of fandom would one complain about such solid musicians playing such great songs. That said, I'm going to complain a little bit. Though it was delivered with as much skill and conviction as ever, this performance lacked the luster of some of the other sets I've seen from the Austin quartet. And if it does stick out someday, it will probably be for two reasons.

First of all—and let's be clear, this is no reason to bitch—despite all this blabber from me about Spoon's consistency, the band rocked out like I've never seen them do last night. Maybe it was the bigger venue—Spoon has played just about everywhere in town smaller than the LC—but their takes on songs like "My Little Japanese Cigarette Case" and "The Beast and Dragon Adored" dropped subtlety in favor of sheer power. They've rocked out before with songs like "My Mathematical Mind" and "Take a Walk," both of which were excluded from last night's set. This was something more fierce and abrasive, with Britt Daniel practically growling into the mic as he worked his way through the lyrics. It didn't necessarily enhance the show, but it was intriguing to see a band I tend to think of as reserved let loose.

More likely, Spoon have always played with that much fire; it just came so unexpectedly in the context of the LC, where I'm used to seeing bands with a tamer touch. The fact that Spoon could grow big enough to sell out these large confines bodes well for a music landscape that fields a large number of doomsday prophets on a regular basis. At various points throughout the night, it occured to me that all these people, many of whom were probably watching their first Spoon show, were eagerly watching Britt Daniel wring incongruous noises from his guitar, which warmed my heart a little bit.

They were also probably there to hear the hits, which is why last night's setlist is the other memorable aspect of the show. For the first time, I felt like Spoon was ignoring its back catalog. They eliminated most of 1998's A Series of Sneaks from the live show a while ago, picking about one song from the album per show—last night it was "Quincy Punk Episode." Normally they have included a decent chunk of 2001's Girls Can Tell, but as far as I can remember, "Fitted Shirt" was the only selection from that one. You expect bands to lean toward their newer records and splurge on the latest stuff, but it was disenchanting to hear Spoon breaking out second-rate latter day tracks like "I Turn My Camera On" and "The Delicate Place" while keeping the likes of "Metal School," "Car Radio" and "Everything Hits at Once" under wraps. And where was the minimalist freakout "Paper Tiger"?

Thing is, even if "I Turn My Camera On" is one of the least exciting songs in Spoon's catalog, it's also a hit now, or at least a commercial jingle. Where I saw that song's appearance in the encore as the height of anti-climax, many of the folks there had probably been waiting for it all night. So it's hard for me to fault Spoon for such a move, even if it left me hungry for more.