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Sebadoh @ Sala Rossa

Posted by Trixie / March 25, 2007

Sebadoh at SalaThe night of the Sebadoh show was something like a meeting at an old friend’s place— someone you haven’t seen in years and so you’re really hoping he is still cool. Unfortunately, you arrive before your friend is home and have to suffer through his trying-too-hard, off-putting roommate’s insistent attempts to entertain you.

And as you wait around, wondering how the roommate’s shtick can be both so generic and so painfully feeble, you start to wonder if you should be here at all, or if the visit with the old friend isn’t bound to be just disappointing and boring and awkward, as these things often are when the shared sensibilities of over a decade ago are tested in the here and now.

But despite your doubts, everything falls into place; happily, not only is your friend cooler than you remember him, but your connection seems entirely relevant, enhanced rather than ossified by nostalgia—in many ways it makes more sense now than ever.

And so I rolled my eyes through the trying efforts of opening band Flecton Big Sky (a two piece, guitar and drums: featureless sludgy rock, with a lead vocalist introducing his songs with tediously banal observations and distasteful references to loving Montreal so much he’d like to finger it—yeesh) to reveling in the fully realized performance of Sebadoh.

432524749_cf385a234c.jpg Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney and Jason Loewenstein—the "Sebadoh Classic" lineup—have evidently converted their collective years of experience, together and apart, into a damn fine rock show. They sound great, they give it all they got, and they seem to have fun doing it.

And many a band could take notes on how to endear oneself to the crowd between songs: Barlow and sometimes Gaffney narrated the proceedings in winning and clever self-reflexive terms, entertainingly musing about all and sundry and riffing on comments thrown out by audience members.

These guys seem right on the money, in no way out-moded or over-the-hill. Plus they look the part as much as ever: Gaffney with his rumpled, blond, open-faced Americana charm; Barlow, all mop o’ curly black hair and thick stubble, with his self-amused knowing little smirk; Loewenstein with his edgy heroin-chic silhouette.

And their standard indie-boy outfits of yesteryear—short-sleeve sweater over dress shirt; vintage pearlized-snap cotton union-made work shirt; t-shirt and jeans—are of course perfectly at home today.

The band changes it up frequently, and it’s novel to watch lead vocal / drum / bass / guitar duties shuffled around, as each songwriter in turn pulls out his contributions, new and old. The songs run the gamut of the short burst, the meandering, the tight and driving.

Though one hears its influence everywhere, I had forgotten how appealing the Sebadoh sound was and still is: the smudgy prettiness, the wonky careless harmonies, the ringing guitar, and, when they rock, the loping, lopsided energy let loose. Barlow’s “Brand New Day” in all its messy, soaring, heart-breaking purity was my favorite of the night. The band also really tore it up on many a tune, notably the said-it-all-way-back-in-’91 epic “Gimme Indie Rock.” Like I said, these gents can really play.

And, though the band gamely and with little prompting had already played a good long set and a few encores, a hard-core group of fans at the front brought them back one more time. Issuing apologies to Tom Petty for what they were about to do, Sebadoh finished up with a loose, screeching, very fun cover of “Free Fallin’.” And then those nice fellas crouched at the front of the stage for a long while, chatting and signing autographs.

It’s nice to know that old-school indie rock still sounds right. Maybe it’s a sad statement on what has happened since, but the Sebadoh show just made me feel that—rightly—certain things never go out of style.

Photos from Flickr user quadb



TMcG / March 26, 2007 at 08:52 am

I didn't go to the show but this review will incite me not to miss out on any events when 90's indie rockers play shows in MTL.

freaknoise / March 30, 2007 at 10:40 am
Thank you for posting such a wonderful review. Also, the pictures are quite nice. If any of you want to listen to a recording of this fine show. loop over to - the official Dinosaur Jr/SEbadoh audio archive... :)
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