Built To Spill Fort York, Toronto ON, September 18

Built To Spill Fort York, Toronto ON, September 18
Photo: Shane Parent
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The Built To Spill set at TURF was a tale of two bands; the one you got to see really depended on the song. Hitting the stage in a black t-shirt (and losing the Band-Aid that had been over his right eye in warm-up) Doug Martsch led the fivesome through a repertoire that dates back 22 years and 8 albums.
 
The band maintained a removed presence for the greater part of the performance, which seemed more professional than apathetic, finishing most songs with a simple "thank you." The group can be forgiven for seeming pre-occupied, as the task at hand — balancing 3 alternating lead guitars — seemed difficult enough. After establishing a groove playing "Distopian Dream Girl" and "You Were Right" from 1999's Keep It Like A Secret, Martsch started to creep more and more out of his shell, the energy level growing exponentially after each successive song. Oddly enough, when playing songs off new album Untethered Moon (especially quirky hits like "Living Zoo" and "Never Be The Same") the group seemed disinterested by the lack of jamming opportunities, moving through the songs instead with a calculated accuracy void of enthusiasm.  
 
On "Carry the Zero," perhaps the band's most well known song, the group found their swagger again, yet even this seemed marred by Martsch's strained vocal chords; he held out though, braving it through the high notes. Those not deterred by the threat of rain were treated to an extended cover of The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now," an interesting closer for a band from Boise, Idaho and one that showcased how compelling Built To Spill can be when performing at the top of their game.