Headliners and Undercards

Saw Built to Spill in concert last night with some lesser band called, I think, the "Automation Adventure Series." It was like an object lesson in why some bands will always open for other bands and some bands will be opened for, and why this should be so. The Automatons would play the same chord for perhaps a minute or so -- strum strum strum strum strum -- and then change to a new one, just before the crowd rioted and tore their instruments from their hands in order to play something different. On the other hand, Built to Spill finished their set with a twenty-minute jam on one chord, and it was good, as in, I didn't realize it was a one-chord jam until maybe five minutes into it. Now, granted, I didn't notice that their second song was in 3/4 time, or that most of their jams are pentatonic (both observations courtesy of Steve, and both pretty damn cool facts), so I'm not perhaps the most alert of listeners, but still, there was artistry on display, there was something there.

Automation did liven up the procedings by doubling the size of their onstage presence during the course of their set, and also by projecting movie images on the wall behind them (generally much more interesting to pay attention to than the music itself). It looked like some kind of painfully "artistic" retro montage -- a lot of pictures of 60s military planes and test pilots, someone in military uniform standing and lecturing while terms like "intestinal fortitute" flashed on the screen next to him, close up of some clean-cut guy's face, picture of some kind of crystal goblet with liquid in it being poured out, then some more pictures of planes flying, this time being rotated and then flashing before disappearing, as though zapped by some extremely low-budget alien plasmeon beam. But no, I was wrong, it turned out to be a 1966 Film Board of Canada documentary called (I think) "The Sense of Orientation," all about your friend, Mr. Inner Ear the mean things you can do to confuse him and the mean tricks he'll play on you in revenge (taking away your intestinal fortitute being among them, apparently).