Tuesday, March 20 , 2018, 5:03 pm | Overcast 60º


Jeff Moehlis: Gimme Indie Rock!

Sebadoh revisits the 1990s at Velvet Jones

Lou Barlow said he had a dream the night before Monday night’s gig at Velvet Jones that he was unprepared for a show. His subconscious may have been channeling a legitimate concern, since it was the first time that Sebadoh had played live since the 2008 Pitchfork Music Festival.

In this incarnation, Sebadoh is Barlow on guitar, bass and vocals; longtime member Jason Loewenstein on guitar, bass and vocals (Barlow and Loewenstein traded guitar and bass duties several times, and typically whoever played guitar also sang); and drummer Bob D’Amico. This was Barlow’s first show ever with D’Amico, who has played for years with Loewenstein in the touring band for The Fiery Furnaces.

But in the end there was no cause for concern. Despite being a little rough around the edges — and that’s the way we like them, anyway — Sebadoh nailed a 30-song set consisting of short blasts of indie rock
of 1990s vintage, encompassing a sonic spectrum from mellow to thrashy.

Barlow — who was the bassist in the early days of legends Dinosaur Jr., and was also part of Folk Implosion — opened by joking that they were on tour to support their new T-shirt. This was perhaps a dig at the irony that their tour is to support the expanded CD reissues of 1994’s Bakesale and 1996’s Harmacy, but these will not come out until later this year. However, these albums were certainly well represented in the setlist, which included nearly all of Bakesale and about half of Harmacy.

The band was in good spirits, with Barlow deadpanning after “Ocean” that “There are way too many words in that song. I was a lot younger when I wrote that.”

Barlow also joked about the challenges of keeping his glasses on, a near impossibility with his sweaty face and animated style of playing bass.

The amusing intro to “Willing To Wait” helped to remind us of the pop culture landscape that Sebadoh was trying to make it in.

“This song is um, it uh ... I hate it actually,” Barlow said. “I don’t hate the song, I hate thinking about it,” going on to explain that the Sub Pop record label wanted to make it a hit song, even hoping to get it on an episode of Friends that was pivotal in Ross and Rachael’s relationship. Sebadoh was denied its chance on Must-See TV, but did manage to blow $100,000 on a video.

The evening started with a short, low-key set by Sandy Yang and Tom Watson, the latter of whom is no stranger to these parts, having played with Mike Watt and the Missingmen almost a year ago at the Mercury Lounge, and who will be returning with that band in about a month to Velvet Jones. Both played guitar, and Yang sang. They were joined for a few songs by D’Amico.

Yang and Watson share a special comaraderie, having been bandmates in the later stages of long-lived experimental rock band Red Krayola. Their playing was somewhat tentative, but really came together when joined by D’Amico. One sensed the beginnings of something that one day could be legendary among the avant-rock cognoscenti.

Sebadoh Setlist

Magnet’s Coil
License to Confuse
S. Soup
Mind Reader
Got It
Love To Fight
Drag Down
On Fire
Too Pure
Willing To Wait
Drama Mine
Nothing Like You
Crystal Gypsy
Beauty of the Ride
Not A Friend
Together or Alone
Forced Love
Give Up
Junk Bonds
New Worship
Brand New Love
Worst Thing
Not Too Amused

Noozhawk contributor Jeff Moehlis is an associate professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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