Sebadoh at Mercy Lounge, 8/14/12

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Contrary to the hypothesis posited in contributor Seth Graves’ column yesterday, the crowd at last night’s Sebadoh performance at Mercy Lounge was indeed equally gendered. Men and women in relatively proportional numbers represented a predictably sized Nashville Tuesday night crowd. In fact, when we showed up to catch opening act (featuring Sebadoh's current rhythm section, Jason Loewenstein and Bob D'Amico) Circle of Buzzards’ first song or two, the crowd's size rivaled only that of a community college night class. Buzzards' two-piece, fuzz-blown bass-and-drum wallop was vaguely melodic and incredibly intense — everything you’d expect from a couple '90s vets still at their angriest, or at least still able to play that way.

The crowd swelled enough to overcome the sparse awkwardness in time for Lou Barlow’s solo set — Barlow may well be one of the world’s loudest or the world's quietest performers, depending on which incarnation you catch. On this occasion, Barlow stepped out brandishing only a ukulele and proceeded to play a collection of his earliest songs — a bit of foreshadowing at the least. Both his heart and endearing self-doubt were pinned firmly to his sleeve, as usual. But maybe a little more than usual this time, and even more so as the night went on. With most of the songs actually originally written on the uke, Lou broke out mostly tunes written in his teens, prefacing them with stories of the women (or lack thereof) who inspired them and juxtaposing them with newer numbers about dropping his kids off at school, facing the intimidation he feels from the other dads. Again, more foreshadowing.

Finally, all three players united in their most recognizable form as the post-reunited Sebadoh. With a rather killer new EP to promote this time around, it was one of the rare instances wherein a 25-year-old reunited band playing new material for the first time in over a decade failed to disappoint with the new shit. As per usual, their best-known effort, Bakesale, was played in its entirety, peppered with choice selections mostly from the latter half of their catalog.

Lou bantered profusely between songs in a self-deprecating and comically insecure manner, fretting over the size of his guitar amp and the tunings of his guitar itself. While the band started off a little fast and loose from the start, things seemed to get a little more loose and actually slower as the set wore on. Several times Sebadoh started (and continued) songs in the wrong tunings — which honestly still sounded pretty all right to us. With Barlow and Loewenstein trading bass and guitar every couple songs, Lou seemed to take longer and longer to retune his guitar each time, eventually giving up on certain songs out of pure frustration. The downtime was remedied with a whole lot of improvisational goofing around, and eventually the songs were supplemented with the same, leading us to believe Sebadoh was incredibly high. We are not kidding. Self-aware jokes about themes of masturbation ran wild, as did heckles and discourse from the crowd. After spending a frustrating 10 minutes trying to tune his axe for the last time, Lou grabbed another guitar, announced their last song and all was said done. The Spin isn’t sure we’ve ever seen such an entertaining mid-life crisis play out in this sort of setting, but we might actually be willing to pay to see it again.

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