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Last night at the Black Cat, folk-punk artist David Combs played his final set as Spoonboy to a warm crowd of admirers and friends. Opener Daoud Tyler-Ameen—aka Art Sorority for Girls—remarked that it felt like prom. Maybe everyone would be crying by the end of the night, he mused, but at least they were all there to experience it together.
All three acts in the show, which also featured Athens, Ga. band Nana Grizol, did draw from a well of idealism, angst, and earnest emotion that recalled the inner life of a highly introspective teenager, but their pop-punk and neo-emo chops were far more developed than the bands at any prom I shuffled through in the early ’00s.
In a sprawling, high-energy set, Combs played Spoonboy singalongs with a little help from his friends (Tyler-Ameen, Nana Grizol frontman Theo Hilton, cellist/vocalist Emma Cleveland, and guitarist Brandon Moses all came onstage to fill out some of Combs’ full-band compositions) and chatted about his years under the moniker. If there’s a running theme in Spoonboy’s canon, he said, it’s that society needs to take a look at how patriarchy affects us all; ingrained tropes of masculinity do no one good. There was a thorough round of applause when Combs announced that he was about to play “Sexy Dreams,” his take on the gender binary, whose video caused a gender-politics stir in 2013.
After an hour-long set on electric guitar, Combs sat down with his acoustic and invited the audience to take a seat, too, playing the last several songs of the night in a cozy, familial circle of his longtime supporters (and some tiny teenagers who were visibly lovestruck at his self-conscious banter). In one interlude, Combs credited former District resident Ted Leo with inspiring his songwriting style. Spoonboy, though, will be remembered as a heartfelt, poetic, political force all his own. —Christina Cauterucci
Photos from the show, by Erica Bruce, are in this gallery.