Features | Concerts

Spoon / The Clientele

By Edgar White | 18 June 2005

The Four Times I Saw Spoon In One Day and How Dom Sinacola Prevented Me from Completely Enjoying Said Times

I am Spoon’s biggest fan, and my name is Edgar White. A name you can count on.

I’m just that good, that inexplicably nimble on my feet; I cannot be accosted by any Spoon-related question that will stump me. I cannot be slapped silly by any unknown Spoon minutiae. I don’t believe I need to list my qualifications. Just trust that I’ve seen Spoon live, like, thirty-five times and I was in the front row each and every time, except, of course, for this time.

I’ve been called Iron Man, Spoon Stud, the Beast, the Dragon, and I’ve been adored by those who are in the know.

I suppose this isn’t all that impressive. This is about one band and one paltry obsession, and I’ll admit it’s one that pales in comparison to obsessions with, say, aeronautics, or, say, helping people. But, if my references feel legit to you, then this at least assures that I’ll be honest about what goes here. True blue.

Dominic lies. It’s in his nature. Something Italian, maybe, or sexually compulsive, because I do know how he likes to play power games with the opposite sex. Even more, he exaggerates constantly. “The little things” he depends on, pushing the romanticism in the sentiment to a chore. For example, after he lost his virginity, he stayed in bed to mull over the situation for three days. I don’t even have to mention the windbag epiphanies he lets fly all over this website. Which is why I’m here. Why I’m going to tell you about June 11th. Because Dom would lie about most of it, and he’s done enough damage already. I couldn’t do that, you see. Hyperbole just isn’t in the blood when it comes to Spoon.

Perhaps I’m embittered by the fact that the band I so love is now incorporated with someone I so hate. Sounds good, good enough to excuse me from holding my tongue. But, pardon me, I’m not talking to that motherfucker Sinacola anymore.

Part One: First Sighting

So, the following happened. All begins on a sunny day in Chicago, the kind of royal cock tease before two days of clouds and rain. It was Saturday, and I sat with a friend, Adam, a Spoon supporter, in the blue tomb of his “family room,” waiting for Dom. Shades were closed, TV was on, the street outside was loud, young minds were hatching revenge.

Dom had called a half hour before, saying he was on his way, twenty minutes, working north from Lincoln Park. It was 12:45, a free in-store Spoon performance at Tower Records started in fifteen minutes, and that particular Tower was twenty minutes from Rogers Park in good traffic. Between Fullerton and Belmont on Clark, the store would not take twenty minutes to get to on June 11th. There was a Cubs game, and people forget how to drive and interact soberly on the days of Cubs games. This isn’t funny, you know. The situation was potentially dangerous, and it was pissing me off.

Dom doesn’t drive aggressively, although he would like you to think he does, and often lectures passengers on the importance of driving aggressively in a city like ours. Like ours? He’s lived here for four years, not even four years straight, and he thinks he fucking owns the place. Which is why, when he finally pulled into Adam’s back alley, got out, looked up at us looking out Adam’s back window, and beckoned us down, I wanted to strangle him. Instead, I scrambled down the deck stairs, into shotgun, and whined, “You’re already ruining my goddamned beautiful day.”

“The only thing I’m doing is taking you to see Spoon,” Dom answered. He started the car. Telephono was playing, “Claws Tracking” on loud, windows down, riding too slowly south down Clark. I knew Adam was thinking we should have just met Dom there, but confronting Dom is useless and tiring. We didn’t know where he had been, or for how long, and we knew he wouldn’t tell us, or make something up, so we both tapped our palms to Jim Eno’s incessant cymbal crashes, me with my arm hanging out the window and Adam’s in his lap.

By the time we were in the neighborhood, it was 1:30, and we spent another fifteen minutes wanking around side streets trying to find a spot to deposit the car. The music was turned down, for concentration purposes, and bucking from the top floor of Tower we could hear “The Delicate Place” lapsing into a guitar solo. It sounded fucking huge. I punched Dom in the arm and pointed to the “Fifteen Minute Parking Only” sign sidled up against one side of the corner Tower was built on. Dom frowned, but I was already out of the car and running up the stairs that wrapped around the building, running past the long trail of Gimme Fiction posters that lead the glass façade to Spoon.

Britt was on his knees, jerking reverb out of a blocky electric. He sank to his knees often that day, usually in the same position and spot next to his amp and the keyboard player, but the first time I saw him there, smiling and wiggling, I beamed. Jim Eno sat dully inside a baggy Merge tee-shirt, waiting for Britt to get up, waiting for one last flam before Britt stood back from the mic and strummed listlessly to silence. Goddamn! That shit sounded spot-on! Precise, is what I told Adam and Dom when they joined me at the back of a forty-strong crowd and clapped, Adam noticeably disturbed by missing the song, Dom thumbing through the Hip-Hop/R&B section that we leaned against, pulling out a Copperpot album and using that as one hand in a weak applause. “Motherfucker’s everywhere,” he bitched, looking at the cover of the album. I told him to shut up.

As late as we were, we only had three songs to soak in the setup. Behind Jim stood a meaty backdrop, a billboard that kept those outside from skeezing a snapshot of the band through the massive windows that surrounded the stage area. On the backdrop was something resembling the cover to Gimme Fiction, the “Spoon” in the same sans serif font. But no cloaked lady, just the cloak, viscous and red “hanging” down the length of the set piece. For ten minutes, Eno didn’t move much, his eyelids low, his wrists separated from his body. This calm threw Daniel’s frontman gyrations into sparkling relief, so even though Eno’s fat yellow tee-shirt waged war with Britt’s coal black slacks and similar button-down shirt, the lead singer came off form-fitting, angular, and snappy while the drummer ended up seeming tired, ragged, aloof at the least. This, of course, kicked ass when “My Mathematical Mind” started up and the beat bounced hard between the two members. The chorus of “Everything Hits At Once” begged for the kind of anticipation that, when paid off, sends the body into shudders and into other bodies, regardless of the tightness of the crowd or the embarrassment of seeming “too into it.” And, then they were done. Britt put down his guitar and headed for the back of the store, behind the crowd. He slipped past us, but not before Dom caught his shoulder. “Great show, man,” he grinned. Britt looked down and said, “Thanks, man,” and pulled away.

After a moment, crossing and uncrossing his arms to check his watch, Dom finally said, “one minute left!” and he took off for the car. I yelled at him, over the clapping, to park in the parking structure because I saw a sign for validations. So, free from Dom, Adam and I browsed.

Then, there was Britt again, buying an album at the cash register. He had a Lying in States disc in his hand. I thought, Fantastic, supporting Chicago indie. I wanted to hug him. Dom came back, saw Britt, and almost did.

Part Two: Second and Third Sightings

Having your parking validated in this city is a triumph. We walked the swagger of our accomplishment out to the van, up the ramp to the elevated outdoor parking next to Tower. And wouldn’t you know it, but there was the band, loading their instruments into some kind of four-door V6. Might’ve been an Escort. It was maroon, I remember that. In the heat of the moment, in the glow of three sweet songs, in the ecstasy of unfettered parking, I shot my hand up and waved. Briefly, Britt, heaving an amp into the back, stopped, stood up tall, and nodded. “Big man,” Dom said and unlocked the Montana.

He pulled out of the space as carelessly and gaudily as possible, honking at the band as we rolled past. They looked annoyed so I sank low in the passenger seat.

This was when Dom told us he never got tickets to the show that night. While we’re down here, he informed us, we might as well check out the Vic. We nodded, even though Dom said he got a ticket two weeks ago and complained about going to Tower when it was first brought up because, “I’ll get enough Spoon that night, I’d rather relax that afternoon.” We parked in an empty parking lot across from the theater.

And wouldn’t you know it, but there was the band and there was their tour bus, parked right out front, and there was the Escort, or whatever model it was, in front of the bus. There was Britt, unloading the same amp, and there was a young woman in a flowered sun dress that we saw joking with the band at Tower. That was it, they were alone. I told Dom to run across the street and hurry up, we’d keep the car running. Surprisingly, he did just that.

When he got back to the car, he didn’t get in. He stood at the open window on the driver’s side and spoke in at us. “It’s sold out, man. I swear, really didn’t think it was going to be sold out with so little people at Tower.” He turned to Britt and Britt’s friend, hundred yards away, and screamed, “It’s sold out, man! I swear! Really didn’t think it was going to be sold out with so little people at Tower!” They ignored him. He yanked Adam’s camera phone out of his hand and aimed it at the couple. Britt looked up. He posed, standing awkwardly, but seemed satisfied at the logical conclusion to Dom’s proclamation.

Moping, Dom suggested we have a late lunch at Quiznos. He pounded the steering wheel and turned off the ignition. He mumbled something about getting Gimme Fiction before any of us, before it came out, as we walked down the sweaty street. Over wet sandwiches, Dom told us about the time he had a girlfriend in North Carolina, how she worked with David Gordon Green at the North Carolina School of the Arts. He told us about the time a truck exploded across from his dorm. He told us about his new iPod and about all the music he gets so regularly. He told us about seeing Vince Vaughn a couple times hailing a cab on Jackson. I knew it was really Adam who saw the truck exploding, and I’m sure Adam knew that too. The two of us ate in silence.

Part Three: Fourth and Final Sighting

The Vic was packed, of course, and we were late. We had taken the el to Adam’s girlfriend’s place by DePaul, and then a cab to traverse the long white noise between Fullerton and Belmont. The cab was to make up time because it took Dom twice as long as us to drink two beers. Yes, he was with us, only because Adam’s girlfriend is so goddamned nice and gave her ticket to Dom, saying she didn’t know much about Spoon and could use the money for utilities. I said I could teach her, but Dom jumped forward to thank her and gave her a huge hug (Dom came with us down to DePaul, hoping to catch a break with a scalper); it’s been eleven days since that night, and he hasn’t given her a thing else.

We paid for heady cups of Miller and hustled a cramped spot at the back of the main floor. The Clientele, we learned through the grapevine, had already gone on. I watched Dom sip his beer, watched his thin lips push the foam from his mouth, watched the wisp of liquid disappear, watched him wince at the taste, or lack thereof. I wanted to fucking kill him. He knows how much I hate missing opening acts; I’ve told him time and time again, and he always says something stupid about how, at theaters, it’s the commercials and preview that begin at show time, not the actual movie. My shoulders sank. I just wanted to see The Violet Hour live.

I didn’t talk to Dom for most of the time before Spoon came out. I watched one roadie curiously. He was meticulous in creating a semi-circle with the instruments, setting up four translucent spheres of light at even points on the stage: two on either side of the drum kit, two up front, at farther points equidistant from Britt’s microphone. No billboard and no eponymous slogans. Temporarily, I was pleased.

They came out dressed differently, Jim in a dark tee-shirt and Britt sporting a white button-down. And, shit, they opened with “Chicago at Night,” which, despite my best poker face, left me giddy and feeling mighty special. Echoless, the song felt lighter, the synths holding less girth than the album version, but this was how the crowd wanted to begin. Everyone danced and hollered through the three minutes. The band then, of course, swatted into “Beast and Dragon, Adored,” as one might expect. Problem was, “as one might expect” quickly changed to predictability within four songs; we wanted A Series of Sneaks and we got almost all of Gimme Fiction; we wanted Kill the Moonlight cover to cover and instead we got Girls Can Tell front to back. Yet, even with the mundane set list, the energy was blistering. Britt’s voice sounded more gloriously harrowed than I’d ever heard it before and Eno’s drums kept a snipped solid pace. It wasn’t until Eno pulled out the mallets and the keyboardist let his instrument swell under white noise that a haunted version of “Paper Tiger” explained how simple Spoon’s arrangements could actually be. It looked all in the timing, developing something the audience could feel in their sloppy loins and maintaining that funk for an hour and a half straight.

“My Mathematical Mind” bounced harder than earlier that day. The audience joined in for the guttural “OH” before the beat started. “Sister Jack” crunched dirtier than I could have ever imagined during its choruses. “The Fitted Shirt” was a strange surprise. “I Turn My Camera On” blissed through ten minutes, five of which Britt was on his knees hacking at the bottom frets of a pretty little red number. The whole shebang was quick, and only two songs from Kill the Moonlight (The only Spoon song I truly hate, “Small Stakes,” even gained a sneaky, chunky melody when I wasn’t paying attention.)! “Metal Detektor” off Sneaks just seemed like filler between new tracks.

During the obligatory applause and hoo-hawing euphony before the band’s encore, Dom started swaying between Adam and I. He grabbed Adam by the shoulders and shook him viciously. I assumed he was ticked by the lack of Sneaks tracks, but turns out he was just wasted. I told him to calm down. He reached down and in one swift motion squeezed my balls through my jeans. He giggled. Then Spoon came back out.

Their encore helped placate the natives. They treated “Utilitarian” like a political rally, Britt inching closer and closer to the audience while shouting away from the microphone and squealing, holding the squeal, “U-HOOOOO-tilitarian,” and mutating the rest of the word into a squabbling endnote. “30 Gallon Tank” felt like home. But as the first riff of “Jonathon Fisk” scrawled through the dingy theater, Dom fell over. He tumbled backwards into a pair of middle-aged barflies and did what one would expect: spilled their drinks. A security guard, otherwise a spectre behind us for most the show, manifested himself in fists at Dom’s collar, and even though we knew the concert would end after the song, Dom was dragged outside. Adam and I followed. In the street, we couldn’t hear the rest of the song. I never had a chance to pull down the tour poster from the foyer. I didn’t have a chance to scream until I cried.

Dom, sitting on the curb, looked up at me with boozy eyes. He laughed and spit at the back tires of a bike chained to a lamppost. “Thissin’t so bad,” he said, “I’ve been kicked out earlier at better concerts.”

I asked him for his iPod. He had it with him, of course. He handed it to me. I threw it at the ground, hard, and then I peed on the shattered pieces. A bouncer looked over but really didn’t seem to mind. I made sure Dom could see my intent, the hunched posture and the last droplets of urine waggling all over the pavement. I zipped up right as the doors opened and the audience, those who saw it all, dripped out of the building.

So, as far as brief epilogues go, I haven’t talked to Dom but once since that night. He called to ask me to write this, maybe insinuating some kind of apology in his offer. Well, he can kiss my ass. Dom Sinacola is a liar, and he ruined, albeit subtly, a day I probably would have loved, maybe even told my kids about. I could have talked civilly to Britt. I could have joked around with him, maybe gotten backstage. Maybe I could have met my future wife at that concert. But Dom got in the way of all of this, simply by being there. I don’t love June 11th.

Even if I did get to pee on an iPod.