Live Review: The Spinto Band @ Satellite Ballroom, February 28, 2008

Admittedly, I have a soft spot for the Spinto Band. The members of the band might look sweet and innocent, but don’t let their unassumingly fresh-faced exteriors fool you. For deep within each of them lies ferocious talent, and when they join forces onstage the effects can be devastating. You know what they say, it’s always the quiet ones, the ones you don't expect…

It was my first visit to Charlottesville’s Satellite Ballroom, an oddly-shaped, smallish space. The clientele was a mix of teenagers with bold black X’s emblazoned on their hands, chino-clad, beer-swilling UVA boys, tight jeans-wearing, beer-swilling UVA girls, and a handful of none of the above (such as yours truly). American Bang were on first, and their physical appearance reminded me of what Kings of Leon kind of used to be, and as soon as they began playing they also sounded like Kings of Leon today, had they not abandoned the Southernness of their sound. The Whigs, on last, were good but nothing terribly exciting.

Which means that the Spintos were definitely the top band of the evening on this night, despite being the sandwich filling on the bill. I’d seen them several times before, so I already knew how good their set was going to be, but as with most good bands, there was no hint of complacency in them. It’s almost like they have no idea how good they are, which seems impossible. They play with immense enthusiasm, and it’s a joy to watch a band that’s having a grand ole time. The band grins, giggles, and brims with happy intensity, all gazillion of them. Their sweetly cheeky pop is incredibly well-played, and never fails to bring a smile to my face. (For example, I’m listening to them right now, and guess what I’m doing? That’s right, I’m smiling).

The set was full of songs I didn’t recognize, which is great news because that usually means there’s new material coming out, and it’s been a few years since the sublimely adorable Nice and Nicely Done was released. The kazoo-driven “Brown Boxes,” “Mountains,” and fan favorite “Oh Mandy” were all included in the performance, and received warm welcomes. They seem to have cut down a bit on their Beatles-esque head-bobbing, though, which made me a little sad. Other than that, the set was fantastic, as to be expected. As my friend (and our photographer) pointed out, if they stay together for a while and keep up their work ethic, there’s no telling how good they could get. I couldn’t agree more.

(photo by Laura O'Neill)


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