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[Show Journal] A Night at the Music Farm with Built To Spill

Last Tuesday Built To Spill played at downtown Charleston’s Music Farm with support from Genders and Slam Dunk.
Genders started out with a bang, bringing their Portland-based rock and roll sound to the Holy City. I’m usually pretty skeptical about opening bands, but Genders far exceeded my expectations. They sound a bit progressive, but there’s also something very comforting in the songs they play. Lead singer Maggie Morris has an ethereal voice with underlying power that interchangeably contrasts and coincides with Katherine Paul’s insane, metal-worthy drumming. Their songs lie somewhere in the middle of haunting and uplifting, and I definitely felt rejuvenated after their set ended, even though it was only about thirty minutes long.

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Genders 1

If one word was needed to describe Slam Dunk, the second supporting band, it would be playful. If two words were needed, the other would be ridiculous. This combination, which normally puts off an overall obnoxious vibe, was perfect after the power Genders hit us with. They remind me a great deal of Charleston’s Magic Camp, the guitar player/vocalist of which Andrei Mihailovic¬† provided Built To Spill’s set list for me. Slam Dunk had an infectious energy and the band’s great inner dynamic was well represented on stage.

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Built To Spill, originating from Idaho, began their set with “Center of the Universe,” but vocalist/guitarist Doug Martsch messed up the beginning twice within the first thirty seconds of them taking the stage. They quickly recovered and powered through “The Source,” “Planting Seeds,” and a few others without pause. They have a powerful indie rock sound, and their fans’ enthusiasm adds to the effect of their music, but I found myself feeling bored after the initial excitement from the openers died down.

BTS 1

I had mixed feelings about the first bit of Built To Spill’s set–they sounded amazing but they didn’t seem at all excited to be playing. The music is obviously the most important part of any show, but for me, a band’s dynamic amongst themselves and with the audience is what makes or breaks a performance. Even though they had a rocky start, BTS eventually got into the swing of things and ended on a high note with “The First Song,” “Wherever You Go,” and “Carry the Zero.”

The encore made the performance for me. They started off with “I Would Hurt a Fly” and went directly into a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper.” Playing this song exemplified their ability to transition from indie to classic rock almost seamlessly. They then played a rendition of The Smiths’ “How Soon Is Now,” revitalized as the theme song for the television series Charmed. Martsch captured Morrissey’s angsty warble perfectly, everyone was thoroughly impressed. They closed the encore with one of their most popular songs “Car” from There’s Nothing Wrong With Love, ending the set on a high note.

BTS 2

Even though BTS’s set started on a low note, they jammed their way through it and ended on top. Seeing three incredible bands, each with their own sound was amazing; from the lesser known supporting acts to the on-the-fence headliner, it was all gravy in the end.

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