Break out your flannel: Built to Spill will thrill at Middle of the Map Fest

Built to Spill is Steve Gere (from left), Doug Martsch and Jason Albertini.
Built to Spill is Steve Gere (from left), Doug Martsch and Jason Albertini. Submitted

Longtime fans of Built To Spill know the drill.

They’ll prepare for the band’s appearance at the Middle of the Map festival by breaking out the flannel from the back of their closets, reconnecting with their marijuana dealers and delaying haircuts until after they revel in the band’s set on the Lead Bank Stage at Crossroads KC on Saturday night, June 30.

Built To Spill is an invaluable holdover from the era in which electric guitars were the dominant sound in popular music. The veteran band’s appearance at Middle of the Map is certain to inspire blissful nostalgia among older attendees and awe in people too young to have experienced the band’s old-school attack decades earlier.

Since its formation in Idaho in 1993, Built To Spill has embraced the most robust elements of classic rock while incorporating the slacker sensibility, righteous absurdism and healthy snark of indie-rock to create an innovative new sound.

Doug Martsch, the primary artistic force of Built To Spill, had already achieved prominence in Seattle’s grunge scene when he co-founded the band. As a member of Treepeople, Martsch contributed to the rock revolution led by Seattle groups like Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.

He took a slightly different tack with Built To Spill. Martsch’s brain-frying guitar jams often sound like an unhinged Neil Young filtered through the loopy high plains psychedelia of Meat Puppets. Extended guitar solos and an improvisatory spirit cause Built To Spill to occasionally resemble an angrier and substantially louder version of the Grateful Dead.

Anchored by the underground hits "I Would Hurt a Fly" and "Carry the Zero," the group’s first two major label albums were college radio staples of the late '90s. They still sound fresh in 2018.

Martsch’s high, whiny voice differentiated Built To Spill from from its like-minded peers. Well into his 40s, Martsch still tends to approximate the nervous energy of a teenager at an unsuccessful job interview.

"Untethered Moon," the group’s eighth and most recent studio album, retains the sound that made Built To Spill a beloved institution.

Ink's Middle of the Map Fest

Main-stage events will take place at Crossroads KC. Bands will also perform each night at the RecordBar, the Brick and the Black Dolphin. Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30. Tickets range from $45 for Friday to $200 for a 2-day, VIP pass.

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