Built to Spill and Meat Puppets at Ram’s Head Live

Wednesday, September 24, Ram’s Head Live is proud to welcome Built to Spill and Meat Puppets, two offshoots of the 2008 All Tomorrow’s Parties Festival, which has probably gone down as having the most stacked lineup of a festival in recent rock music history.  Built to Spill will perform their 1997 Warner Brothers debut, Perfect from Now On, in its entirety, certainly the most musically demanding item in their repertoire.  There’s no word yet on whether Meat Puppets will play through Meat Puppets II as they did at ATP fest, but either way the show should be a treat.

Built to Spill is quite simply one of my favorite bands ever. I’ve seen them more than any other artist and every time has been spectacular.  They manage to sound just as good live as they do on record, which is impressive given the levels of layering that occur on the albums.  Perfect From Now On, with its constantly mutating guitar parts and shifting dynamics, is one of the more technically accomplished slabs of indie rock to come out of an era when scribble and slop ruled the genre.  Their attention to detail and knowledge of pop melody was the bedrock upon which Death Cab for Cutie and Modest Mouse built a modicum of commercial success, but certainly Doug Martsch’s matter-of-fact lyrical treatments, which often reduce complex emotional states to syllogisms, were a signpost for a generation which for better or worse tended to roll its eyes at Gen X’s existential anxiety.

If there’s an album which deserves to be appreciated from front to back, Perfect from Now On is the one, although the choice to undertake this kind of tour now is intriguing given the band’s recent attempts at making looser, jammier, songs, even reggae music.  From the Milton-esque extended metaphor about the afterlife known as “Randy Describes Eternity” to the climactic, swirling darkness of “Untrustable/Part 2 (About Somebody Else)” the album is at once their most impressive and their most difficult and labyrinthine.  The songs range from five to nine minutes long, either eschewing entirely the notion of return or jamming on one riff for the entirety of the song.  The lyrics catch Martsch at his most reflective and bittersweet–but still he gives us more epistemology than lyric poem.  While the songs dont exactly from a cycle, there is the sensation of having been on a journey after all the logical and musical twists and turns as the singer asks with a wink, “how many ideas can fit into your reality?”

I’ve seen Meat Puppets twice, and they are remarkable musicians.  Even if you have a hard time swallowing the acid-punk-country melange, their confidence on stage matches the headliners and they tend to have a lot of fun with the set.  Curt Kirkwood has some of the fastest, most precise fretwork in indie rock music as younger brother Chris stomps around the stage still looking like some deranged PTSD Vietnam vet.  The show should be a unique pairing of heavyweights well worth the price of admission.  While there are a ton of musical dinosaurs still playing live for whatever reason, these two do not disappoint, and anyone who hasn’t gotten to experience their offerings should catch up on what they’ve been missing.

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MP3: Meat Puppets – Split Myself in Two

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MP3: Built to Spill – Out of Site

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One Response to “Built to Spill and Meat Puppets at Ram’s Head Live”

  1. The Daily Breather says:

    Aw man this is good news, and what a cool concept to hear a great album in it’s entirety. I’ve only ever heard 1 Built to Spill album but it is cherrished. I don’t even know the album or songs but somehow it doesn’t matter. That just makes me believe that it’s all for me. I’ll be excited to hear how this show went. Please keep us posted.

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