On Friday, July 14th, Radio 105.7 and Bowery South put on a very special evening at The EARL benefiting Songs For Kids Foundation. Fresh off a European tour and a slot at Birmingham, Alabama’s Sloss Fest the next day, the special guest for the evening was none other than indie rock legends Spoon. As soon as the band had announced the show the week prior, the small room at The EARL in East Atlanta immediately sold out.
If you have lived in Atlanta over the last ten years and keep up with the music scene even slightly, you’ve probably heard of the Songs For Kids Foundation. Songs For Kids is a 501(c)3 non-profit foundation that integrates musicians into the lives of kids facing illness and hardship. They do live interactive concerts at children’s hospitals, including bedside performances. Songs For Kids has brought music into hospitals all over the US and runs regular programs in children’s hospitals in 5 states. They’ve had Janelle Monae, Phoenix, FUN., Passion Pit and many more perform for the kids. There is also the yearly 500 Songs For Kids in Atlanta where hundreds of artists perform one of 500 songs over 12 nights to benefit the foundation. Songs For Kids Records is where kids get to work with producers and songwriters to craft their personal stories and ideas into songs. This has also led to their yearly performance at Shaky Knees Festival. Songs For Kids’ young artists get to perform on the main stage with special guests that are also playing the festival. Basically it’s a really rad nonprofit that is spreading a lot of good vibes for youth that need that positive energy in their lives. But you probably already knew that.
For this special evening, Songs For Kids founder Josh Rifkind brought along one of the kids, Micah, to perform with Josh as the opener. Micah is one of the lucky kids who has already performed with Songs For Kids at Shaky Knees multiple times and now he gets to add to his list: opened for indie rock legends Spoon! Micah bravely got on the stage at The EARL and told his story of getting a rare form of cancer before he could even drive that put a wrench in his promising young life. 8 surgeries later and another one to come, Micah has been through more in his young life than most of us will ever go through, yet he bravely keeps a great attitude and fights through it. Oh yeah, and he really loves rock ‘n’ roll – playing it, listening to it, and digging deep into the history. I got the chance to chat with Micah before the show, and I can safely say that this kid knows more rock ‘n’ roll history than most of us could even imagine knowing. I’d say Micah was pretty pumped and excited to not only meet Spoon, but also perform on the same bill. That’s a heck of an honor for anyone; Micah and Josh got to have a blast on stage at The EARL with the sold out crowd attentively surrounding them and enjoying the moment.
The EARL in East Atlanta is one of the best rock clubs in America. Over the last 15+ years, some of the best bands in the world have played the small intimate venue as they were coming up. With a capacity of less than 300, there isn’t a bad seat in the house. The stage is small, but not tiny, barely risen off the floor with a slight half moon front that allows the audience to surround the artists performing face to face with the front row of people. For Spoon, who hadn’t performed at The EARL in 10 years, this gave frontman Brit Daniel the opportunity to interact with the crowd more than he would be able to on the festival stages and some of the larger venues that Spoon now commands. The seasoned frontman took advantage of the opportunity, pacing around the small stage, giving high fives to audience members, and jumping over the set of speakers that separates the crowd to the edge of the stage and into the crowd’s loving arms reaching up towards him. There was no denying that this sold out crowd who jumped on the tickets as soon as they went on sale, love this band, and the band loved them back.
Spoon, who was formed in the early nineties in their hometown of Austin, Texas, has risen to fame over nine studio albums, including their latest album Hot Thoughts released in March through Matador Records; all since their debut album was released in 1996. Not only has the band been critically praised over their career as Brit Daniel has become known as one of the great songwriters of our era, but the band has continued to grow their profile in the eyes of their fans release by release. Spoon is one of those bands that you almost forget just how many greats songs they’ve collected over the years until you dive into their back catalog, or see a set like this. Yet with every release, they just keeping adding to their collection, and Hot Thoughts is another stellar release to add to their portfolio.
Kicking off the night with “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” from Hot Thoughts, the band played 6 songs off the new album over a 19 song setlist including singles “Can I Sit Next to You” and “Hot Thoughts” during the encore. The setlist also included songs from at least 6 of their albums, including fan favorites such as “I Turn My Camera On”, “The Underdog”, “Do You”, and “Don’t Make Me a Target”. Spoon ended their set with a singalong, “Black Like Me” off of 2007’s beloved Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga, before returning for their encore with two Hot Thoughts’ songs: “First Caress” and “Hot Thoughts”. Finishing the night off, Spoon played a riveting version of “My Mathematical Mind” off of 2005’s Gimme Fiction, full with the mathematical screeching guitars that soared through The EARL’s walls.
The intimate evening with Spoon at The EARL was truly a magical night for all of us lucky enough to be in attendance. It went by like a whirlwind that no one in the audience wanted to see end. It’s rare you get to see a band with such a vast history that’s still on top of the game at such a small and intimate venue. It only made sense that this all took place The EARL, is there a better place to see a band like Spoon? I really don’t think so. Props to Spoon for this one, doing it for such a worthy cause in Songs For Kids, and treating their fans to a night that they won’t soon forget. MAJOR props to Radio 105.7 and Bowery South for pulling this all together and making it happen.
Check out Mike Gerry‘s photos from the show: