Seventeen years and seven studio albums into their career, Built To Spill have become like good old buddies you used to kick it with back in the day, just hanging out, smoking weed, playing video games and listening to tunes. Nothing ever too wild or memorable happened but somehow it was always just perfect. Their show on another miserably rainy night in Vancouver was like reuniting with your old best dudes: an effortlessly good time.
Before they hit the stage, however, the packed house at the Commodore was treated to a couple of admirable opening acts. First up were fellow Idahoans Finn Riggins. They were clearly excited to be playing the big room, and that energy translated well into playfully heavy, ramshackle power pop with a reliance on ecstatically shouted “Oh-ooh-Whoa-ooh” choruses. Next up were Switzerland’s Disco Doom, which were neither disco nor doom. Though more technically adept than Finn Riggins, they were also more boring. Ultimately, their straightforward shoe-gazer rock left me feeling like Switzerland: neutral.
After a short break, the five travelling members of Built To Spill ambled onto the stage, sporting slept-in t-shirts and varying degrees of paunch. There was nothing showy here, just some of the best indie rock of the past 20 years. With a meek “hello,” Doug Martsch and the boys launched into their set, which leaned heavily on their impressive back catalogue, featuring crowd favourites like “Dystopian Dream Girl” and “Car.” Much of the packed house unabashedly sang along as if the songs were written just for them. After a thoroughly satisfying 11-song set and the warm gravy of a three-song encore, it was clear that Built To Spill are playing themselves into the pantheon of rock.