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Built to Spill Play Secret Show at Cafe Stritch

In Music
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Built to Spill at Cafe Stritch. Photo by Aron Cooperman.

San Jose music fans were treated to a rare surprise Monday with a secret show from indie rocker veterans Built to Spill at Café Stritch in what was arguably one of the coolest shows to happen in San Jose in the past decade.

The concert was not publicized beyond word of mouth, but it still drew more than 200 people to the new eatery and bar on South First Street.

PHOTOS: More images from Built to Spill at Cafe Stritch.

The secret show landed between Built to Spill’s two sold-out San Francisco dates at Slim’s and a show Tuesday night in Santa Cruz at the Rio. The free San Jose show was supposed to be Built to Spill’s only day off during their three-week tour. When they found out that tour openers Slam Dunk were headlining their own show at Stritch, Built to Spill volunteered to play it as well, not even knowing where the show was at or any details about it.

“We’re doing this shit because it’s fun to do,” said Built to Spill lead singer/guitarist Doug Martsch. “It’s still a job and all that, but we’re lucky we get to do this. We still think of ourselves as a young punk rock band. We’re all in our 40s. We made a bunch of records. We happen to be on Warner Brothers, but this is fun.”

Built to Spill went on after opener Andy Barnes (of Worker Bee and Dinners) and played a set entirely of covers, which Martsch explained to me he felt ok with since no one was actually paying to see them.

The band ran through classics, including “Beast of Burden” by the Rolling Stones, “Don’t fear the Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult featuring an member of the audience on cowbell, “Here” by Pavement, “How Soon is Now” by the Smiths, “Abba Zabba” by Captain Beefheart and the closer “Age of Consent” by New Order, which turned into a psychedelic jam that lasted thirty minutes.

The crowd was all smiles. The couple hundred people who packed the small performance space danced, sang along and even occasionally crowd surfed. And it all happened right here, in San Jose.

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