MUSIC BOX: Ukulele maestro at Center Theatre

By on October 8, 2013


100913musicbox1Unsung indie-rock heroes: Built to Spill

In the mid ’90s, Built to Spill (one of the best band names of all-time) picked up just as Dinosaur Jr. was beginning to fade, joining a progressing indie-rock medium that included bands like Pavement. Pop elements and noisy, spacious jamming reminiscent of Crazy Horse were at the core of singer/songwriter/guitarist Doug Martsch’s approach. Built to Spill was created as a vehicle for Martsch to rotate band members and consequently, the band’s sound.

Martsch founded Built to Spill in Boise in 1992 after parting ways with the alt-rock band Treepeople. After releasing two albums on indie labels, Built to Spill signed with Warner Brothers in 1997 and released what many consider to be the band’s finest album, Perfect From Now On. Dynamic song construction that ran past the six-minute mark and shifted through multiple sections, along with guitar-oriented sonic textures, were combined with pop sensibilities. Apparently smart on the business side as well, Martsch secured the major label deal with the caveat that the band would retain creative control over future albums.

From quieter love songs to stellar guitar soloing, punk-rock aesthetics, and jangly melodic hooks, Martsch’s songwriting would ebb and flow over the course of eight total albums. By the late ’90s, the band had a devout following and was one of the most recognizable indie rock bands in the United States. Their sound simplified with 2001’s Ancient Melodies of the Future. Production moved from raw to warm and guitar jams would occasionally hammer away at the same riff for minutes. It would be 2006 before another album was released, and the band’s latest is 2009’s There is No Enemy. The latter set finds Martsch’s vocals more refined and a return to the dreamy elements and elaborate production that often takes the band more than a year to complete.

“As a youngster I liked just all kinds of weird sounds. I was more willing to explore things that didn’t make sense. … I’d add a bunch of stuff and that would take some attention away from the vocals or something like that,” Martsch told Tiny Mix Tapes last year. “You know, with like old songs of ours, if a song was happy or sad or something, I never felt that way. I didn’t feel like there was a tone to the songs. I just sort of wrote them and was more about making melodies and chord progressions than words. It was not so much about the tone; it was how it felt. And, I would just sort of strum it out and add things to it to fill it up, but now I’m more concerned with making things concise.”

Built to Spill, 9 p.m. on Tuesday at Pink Garter Theatre. Slam Dunk and Genders open. All ages. $20/advance, $23/day-of-show at The Rose, Pinky G’s and


Jake Shiabukuro (BRANDON CHING)

Uke mastermind at Center for the Arts

It’s amazing how 36-year-old Jake Shimabukuro gets as many sounds as he does from the four strings on his ukulele. An instrumental virtuoso, Shimabukuro has written a number of original compositions, but is widely known for his finger fury on covers like Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody” and George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.” The latter was the featured song on the YouTube video that went viral and received over 12 million hits in 2006 and pushed him into international acclaim. His 2011 album, Peace Love Ukulele, reached No. 1 on Billboards Top World Music Albums.

Jake Shimabukuro, 8 p.m. on Thursday at Center Theatre. $35/orchestra, $25/balcony, $125/VIP at or 733-4900.



Baltimore-based electronic composer and entertainer Dan Deacon wants to draw you into his domain. His shows are known for large-scale audience participation (like using a smartphone app that allows audience members to hold their phones in the air and synchronize a light show). His music – which often teeters between tension-building abrasive, electro noise, and relentless all-out four-on-the-floor fist pounding fun – utilizes loops and samples to produce relentless dance grooves.

Teton Artlab presents Dan Deacon, 10 p.m. on Saturday at Pink Garter Theatre. Houston Guy opens. All ages. $15 at The Rose, Pinky G’s and

About Aaron Davis

Aaron Davis is a decade-long writer of Music Box, a singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, member of Screen Door Porch and Boondocks, founder/host of Songwriter’s Alley, and co-founder of The WYOmericana Caravan.

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