Sebadoh played songs from their albums Bakesale and Harmacy to a relatively empty Velvet Jones Monday.
The group, touring in support of their new T-shirt (Lou Barlow joked — they haven’t had a new album in the past 11 years), stumbled through a loose, shambolic set that nonetheless drew rave reactions from the assembled crowd.
Featuring a new drummer, who actually turned out to be the only problem-free aspect of the show, Sebadoh encountered myriad technical problems throughout their set.
First, Barlow couldn’t keep his wind through a song, blaming heart medication he took two days ago. “Too much information,” he said, and laughed after the audience failed to react to his news.
Of course, upon hearing him laughing, the audience itself erupted in peals of laughter. That was sort of a theme, and something endemic to all concerts featuring bands with cult followings. (And I think it is fair to call Sebadoh’s following at least cultish — the audience seemed full of people that have been fans since the band was producing music regularly.) Whenever the lead singer of one of these bands says anything, the entire audience erupts in torrents of laughter roughly equivalent to the death-inducing chuckles brought on by Monty Python’s “Funniest Joke in the World.” I’m actually kind of stunned that nobody has keeled over at a Roger Waters show as a result of him mumbling something incoherent about “The Wizard of Oz.”
After his breath issue, Barlow couldn’t keep his glasses from sliding off his face, and spent the concert squinting into the microphone and fumbling with the five strings on his guitar. I say five, and that’s not a misprint — one of his strings broke about a song into the set and went unreplaced throughout the rest of the 30-song set.
“Every time I take off my glasses someone I know says, ‘You think you look really cool without your glasses on,’” Barlow said.
Again, the audience laughed like they were serving whippits instead of beer at the bar.
But despite these problems, and despite their substandard speakers, Sebadoh still delivered a pretty darn good set. Opening with “Magnet’s Coil” and playing such songs as “License to Confuse,” the band played for around an hour and a half, and Loewenstein switched places seamlessly with Barlow. You may call me a fanboy, and you may be (read: almost certainly are) right, but seeing the band play live after all these years was a treat. Fighting through a set of problems that would derail most less-experienced bands, Sebadoh pulled off the show with aplomb and left everyone pleased. Even with a set that omitted “Soul and Fire” and “The Freed Pig,” are you really going to find something better to do on a Monday?