Indie rock stalwarts Built to Spill played back-to-back sold out shows last week at San Diego’s venerable rock club, the Casbah. This quickly became a tough ticket to get as the band typically plays much larger venues when they hit town. The Casbah can fit only 200, and even with two shows, demand easily exceeded supply. The Casbah has a reputation though for punching above its weight and the band apparently likes the venue as they have played there several other times throughout the years.
And really it was great to see a band of such stature in such an intimate setting. The crowd was responsive and enthusiastic throughout the performance and the band responded with a 1:50 set (which is long by Casbah standards) that included at least half of the new album, last year’s excellent Untethered Moon. One of the highlights from that record was “So” which included a typical Doug Martsch guitar freak-out to start the song before settling into a riffy, melodic groove. For an encore – and by encore I mean the band leaves the stage and walks out to the sidewalk until they are called back in – they performed an epic, slow building, version of “Time Trap” off of 1999′s Keep It Like a Secret.
If I were to find fault in the show it is that they performed as a 3-piece with only Martsch on guitar. As good a guitar player as he is, and he is really good, he can’t play two guitars at once. One of the strengths of BTS is the interplay between multiple guitars, both with a lead over the top of a rhythm guitar or with intertwining leads as on the aforementioned “Time Trap”. Hopefully next time around the band will be back to full strength, but either way I’ll be there wherever they decide to play.