Kill the Moonlight: Spoon Plays Oklahoma's Historical Tumbleweed Dancehall, One Last Time

Yahoo On the Road

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photo: Sam Saturday

photo: Sam Saturday

The Yahoo On the Road bus has rolled up to many hallowed venues along its rock 'n' roll journey (check out the tour's full 2014 schedule here), but none quite as magical or literally off the beaten path as Stillwater, Oklahoma's Tumbleweed Dancehall. There, on Oct. 15, indie-rock icons Spoon played a special show for 200 lucky fans… and only added to the club's mythology.

The Tumbleweed Dancehall is perhaps the most aptly named venue in America. It truly is just that. A. Tumbleweed. Dance. Hall. Located in the middle of a sun-bleached field, surrounded by little more than cows and the occasional landscape-dotting farmhouse, it could easily go unnoticed by non-locals. Surely the Yahoo On the Road bus driver must've thought his GPS had failed him, as he wheeled along that desolate, dusty stretch of road… until, of course, the Tumbleweed's old-school neon sign, in all its flickering circa-1981 glory, came into view.

[Photos: Yahoo On the Road With Spoon ]

Inside, this untouched-by-time honky-tonk looked like the perfect location for the Footloose prom's afterparty. And it actually has hosted events nearly as momentous over the past 33 years. While alt-rock acts like Spoon don't tend to grace the Tumbleweed stage, Kings of Leon did shoot their "Beautiful War" video there in 2013. More importantly, a then-unknown Garth Brooks used to work at the club as a bouncer in the '80s, and when the venue started hosting outdoor concerts back in 1991, Brooks played the very first one. Other acts to play "The Weed" have included country greats like Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, George Strait, and Hank Williams Jr., and for years the venue has hosted the legendarily carnivorous Calf Fry jamboree. ("Anyone know what a Calf Fry is?" Spoon's Texas-born frontman, Britt Daniel, asked the Yahoo On the Road crowd, thankfully not referring to that event's nickname, the "Testicle Festival.")

Oh, and Vanilla Ice has played the Tumbleweed Dancehall, too. Word to your mother.


Spoon took part in the Tumbleweed's rich history with their invite-only, fan-tastic Yahoo On the Road show, which will likely be the last rock concert at the club. "We really like playing honky-tonks, so it's cool to play here," Daniel told the crowd… before sadly announcing that the Tumbleweed, the only 18-and-over music venue in the college town of Stillwater, is being torn down before the end of the year. 

At the Tumbleweed, Daniel and his band — now including among its ranks Alex Fischel, from Daniel's indie-rock supergroup, Divine Fits — treated the delighted audience to a selection of tunes from the later years of their nearly two-decade recording career, playing no pre-2005 material. (Sorry, Girls Can Tell/Kill the Moonlight fans.)

Seven tunes in the 75-minute set actually came from Spoon's recently released eighth album, They Want My Soul; highlights included the single "Do You," the trippy "Outlier" (which temporarily transformed the Tumbleweed into a Madchester rave), and the delightful Ann-Margret cover "I Just Don't Understand."

However, the crowd went craziest for the groovy Gimme Fiction hit "I Turn My Camera On," that same album's rarely played "Was It You," and the show-closing everyman anthem "The Underdog." No honky-tonk line-dancing ensued, but much beer was spilled/tossed by the rowdier over-21 fans in the club.

As for many of the younger concertgoers in attendance, Spoon's Yahoo On the Road show will probably be their first, last, and only Tumbleweed Dancehall experience. But at least it was a darn good one.

Spoon's full Yahoo On the Road setlist was:

Got Nuffin
Rent I Pay
Inside Out
Rainy Taxi
I Turn My Camera On
The Ghost of You Lingers
Rhythm and Soul
The Beast and Dragon, Adored
I Just Don't Understand
Trouble Comes Running
Don't You Evah
Don't Make Me a Target
Was It You
Do You
Knock Knock Knock
The Underdog

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