By Ben Buehler
Saturday was a big day for Denver. That there would be traffic coming into the Mile High City at 9:30 p.m. should have been obvious to us before we left the Springs. The Colfax exit was closed [for tear gas], we lost radio reception of the game, and I was seriously mad at myself for not allotting an extra hour of travel time. Getting to the Ogden late and missing Built to Spill was not how I intended to spend my weekend.
But despite detours and near misses with certifiable traffic "jams" (and after the obligatory twenty minute parking spot hunt) we still managed to arrive with the house lights on and the band just setting up. Answering the crowd's calls of "Avs!" and "Sackic!" with patient good humor, band leader Doug Martsch was as cool a cucumber as they come. Even though pouring with sweat by the end of the show, Martsch calmly went on delivering his unique brand of emotionally charged alternative rock n' roll.
The show started with "In the Morning," the opening track of the band's second LP, There's Nothing Wrong With Love. For the next hour (and then some) the five-piece group churned out almost- album-perfect versions of some personal favorites.
The few mistakes Martsch made were shrugged off with a grin, by the most easygoing of rock frontmen. Before their cover of Talking Heads' "Dream Operator," for instance, Martsch said "I forget some of these lyrics, so I'm going to just make them up. If you really like this song, don't be too offended." The band went on to play an excellent, even if lyrically incomplete, version of the song. The rest of the set was made up of Built To Spill's own work, including "The Plan," "Randy Described Eternity," "Carry the Zero," and other brilliantly titled numbers.
"You guys will be an easy crowd," Martsch remarked at the show's outset. He may have been referring to our hockey-infused enthusiasm, but Stanley Cup or no, we would have been a good crowd. It's hard to be disappointed by such beautiful songs performed so honestly, and with such precision. Midway through the show, even the six guys in Avs jerseys had lost focus of the game, and were shirtless chanting "Joyride" instead of "Roy! Roy! Roy!"
Check out Built To Spill at the record store: any of the last six albums are well worth hearing. And, look for their newest album, Ancient Melodies of the Future, which hits stores July 10th.