Come to think of it, Rock the Garden has not been the best place to see some of our favorite bands as headliners. Metric, My Morning Jacket, the Hold Steady and the Decemberists have all put on Twin Cities performances elsewhere that were better than the ones they offered in the top-billed slot outside Walker Art Center. The good summery vibes have usually been enough to make RTG gigs memorable (although, those vibes still couldn't save MGMT).

Spoon may go down as the one big exception in recent years. Going back to their days of playing the 400 Bar, it’s hard to think of a better Twin Cities showing by the Austin-reared chop-pop band than the one it offered Sunday night in front of about 8,500 fans, topping off what also turned into one of the most perfect nights weather-wise in RTG history.

“The last few times I’ve played this city, it’s been phenomenal,” Spoon frontman Britt Daniel commented before his band’s last song, clearly feeling the love fest on his end, too.

There were a few hurdles for Spoon to leap over, too. For starters, Guided by Voices – a band Spoon used to open for -- went over even better with the RTG masses than could’ve been expected by the GBV diehard fans in the crowd. “They are one of the greatest American rock bands of all time,” Daniel said in reverence after taking the stage.

Adding to Spoon’s challenge, it was coming off a three-year hiatus with one new member and one fill-in member. The band added keyboardist/guitarist Alex Fischel going into its new album (due out in August), and then it recruited Stephen Patterson of White Rabbits before its current tour leg to fill in for bassist Rob Pope, who’s on paternity leave.

Fischel’s addition freed up Daniel to mess around more, such as when he stalked the stage in “Rhthm & Soul” and got down on the ground to churn some extra guitar grind in “Got Nuffin’” before the encore. But the band’s tight rhythmic verve was as in tact as ever, with the tautly grooving “I Turn My Camera On” and more explosive finale “Jonathon Fisk” proving especially infallible. The two new songs that kicked off the set were nothing out-of-the-ordinary for the band, but the panting beat of “Rent I Pay” was extraordinarily fun.

Here’s Spoon’s full set list. See the rest of our Rock the Garden coverage and photo galleries here.

Knock Knock Knock / Rent I Pay / Don't You Evah / Who Makes Your Money / The Ghost of You Lingers / Small Stakes / I Turn My Camera On / I Summon You / Don't Make Me a Target / Rhthm & Soul / The Underdog / Got Nuffin Encore: Black Like Me / You Got Yr. Cherry Bomb / Jonathon Fisk

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