Indie inspiration as Spoon, Grizzly Bear team up on tour

Spoon (pictured) will kick off a co-headlining tour with fellow indie mainstays Grizzly Bear at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.
Zackery Michael
Spoon (pictured) will kick off a co-headlining tour with fellow indie mainstays Grizzly Bear at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion.

Britt Daniel chuckles over the phone when the critical reception to Spoon’s most recent album, “Hot Thoughts,” comes up in conversation. On top of widespread acclaim, the Austin, Texas, quartet’s record made numerous best-of lists for 2017, with songs like “Can I Sit Next to You” and “Do I Have to Talk You Into It” bending their sound in new, dancier directions. Even after nine albums, they’re still finding ways to keep their sound fresh and fans guessing what they’ll do next.

So what are Daniel’s thoughts on all the praise, aside from a laugh? “My reaction is good,” the frontman says matter-of-factly. “It’s better than the other way around.” 

It’s a fitting response, considering Spoon’s road to success has had more to do with humility than hits. Core members Daniel and drummer Jim Eno have played the long game over the past 25 years, building a loyal following thanks to hard work, steady touring, and a discography full of consistently solid albums.


On Monday, the band will kick off a co-headlining tour with fellow indie mainstays Grizzly Bear at Blue Hills Bank Pavilion. As Spoon is still putting out some of their best work while simultaneously releasing anniversary reissues — a unique position for most artists — they have a bevy of favorites to form their riveting live sets. “Well, it keeps me busy,” Daniel says about navigating the band’s body of work. “There’s a lot of catalog there; even in a live show it’s a lot to consider. We try to switch it up, try to play something from all the eras.”

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“Maybe [Spoon] can pass on some sage advice. They can be like, ‘It’s chill in your 40s, trust us!,’ ” quips Ed Droste, guitarist and vocalist for Grizzly Bear, in a separate phone interview. The Massachusetts native’s bandmates are fairly seasoned veterans themselves: after starting as Droste’s “extremely lo-fi” solo project in college, Grizzly Bear as we know it formed when Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor, and Chris Bear joined in the early 2000s. Emerging from New York City’s rock revival scene, the band gained traction with 2006’s “Yellow House,” winning praise from critics and fans (including Jay-Z and Beyoncé) thanks to their signature brand of folk-rock with a psychedelic edge. 

After a break following 2011’s stellar “Shields,” the band returned last year with “Painted Ruins,” their fifth album. In the period between the last tour and the recording sessions for the new album, band members experienced individual life changes, Droste explains, including marriage, divorce, having kids, and moving out of New York. “I think everyone
really needed the feeling of everyday normalcy for a little bit, and not feeling like life was just touring and making music and being in the music world,” he says.

But the break paid off, as “Painted Ruins” includes some of the band’s sharpest songs to date. “I feel so lucky that people love it, and it’s my favorite record that we’ve ever done,” Droste says. “It’s been a very positive, fun experience touring this album, and I’m excited to have a final summer of doing it before who knows what’s next.” 

On this particular tour, both bands have partnered with PLUS1, an initiative designed to help artists and fans support important causes. For all seven dates, $1 for every ticket sold will go to the Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund. “It’s a cause we believe in and that we’ve been working on for some time, and this is gonna be a big tour reaching a lot of people,” says Daniel, a a vocal gun control advocate. “Not every fan is going to appreciate it, because not every fan is going to think, politically, exactly the way we do. But it feels like the right time. It feels like there’s momentum at this moment, so it’s not the time to let up.”


“If there’s a political belief that I feel strongly about, I want to stand behind it,” adds Droste, noting that Grizzly Bear brought a voter registration booth to their shows last fall. Droste is also known to dish out scathing political commentaries on social media, and he was a fervent Bernie Sanders supporter in the 2016 presidential election. Though his opinions may deter some fans, he isn’t planning on hiding any time soon. “I have no idea why I’m so outspoken, but I am, and I’m not really ashamed of it. If someone doesn’t like it . . . well, sorry,” he says with a laugh.

Despite their ongoing success, both Daniel and Droste say they aren’t sure what the future holds for their respective bands. With Grizzly Bear in particular, there has been a high degree of uncertainty after pretty much every album. “It keeps us on our toes,” Droste admits. “We’re just really grateful that we’re still able to do what we’re doing to the degree that we’re doing it, and it’s been a really fun ride and a life-changing journey for sure. I think that everyone in the band has other interests that aren’t just music, so TBD on whether those avenues are explored or whether we go for album number six.”

Says Daniel, “There have been times where I knew exactly what we were going to do next, but right now, I don’t.” He likes to get back to writing and recording new music following a tour, but for now, “It’s kind of a blank page right this second. It’s a good place to be.”


At Blue Hills Bank Pavilion, June 18 at 7 p.m. Tickets $31-$56, 

Robert Steiner can be reached at