WHEN:Thursday, May 28, 2015
WHERE:The Loving Touch, Ferndale
I'm a really bad judge of how many people are in a crowd. But last night's Sebadoh show had a crowd of maybe 3/4 capacity? Or 2/3s? It was the perfect size — crowded, so that you knew both the venue and the band were not going hungry, and that the energy of the show would at least start off high. But ti wasn't so packed that you couldn't move around the edge of the crowd to find a decent vantage point, or at some point fear for your life as you got pressed to the side of the stage. And you didn't have to wait half an hour to order a beverage. So, hooray to the appreciative Ferndale crowd of half-young, and half formerly-young, fans of the not-lo-fi band!
Lou Barlow told of how at the previous time they'd played here, three years ago at the Magic Stick, only 40 people showed up. He also remembered some disgusting stuff he saw at the Detroit zoo as a kid, when he lived nearby. And most importantly, Barlow decreed that the best song ever recorded in the Detroit metropolitan area is The Up's "Just Like An Aborigine," not a cheap record on Discogs these days. That's a great, leftfield choice. The Up were even more affiliated with the White Panthers than the MC5, and they recorded very little. Word has always been that they were a super shredding live band.
The band was shreddy and introspective and pretty great. This was only the second time I'd seen them in the last 18 years. It was not a reunion/ nostalgic show; this is a functioning, current band. Barlow's strings kept breaking, so there were more pauses than I'd have liked, because the band pauses a few times anyway since Lou and Jason Loewenstein trade places on guitar and bass throughout each show, anyway. But, so what, that's me nitpicking and I don't even know why I just nitpicked, sorry.
Jason Loewenstein's voice was having an out of body experience last night. It was shot to shit. That alone made it more like a real Sebadoh show, because this group is always best when frayed around the edges. The new-ish drummer guy Bob D'Amicoheld it all down with lots of power and finesse. Barlow's voice was a bit low in the mix but sounded great. "Skull" was played a bit faster than the record. If they didn't play "License to Confuse," they played a song that was its very close kin. And towards the end they played a very kinetic version of "Brand New Love" that had Loewenstein absolutely bouncing about. It was played at a shimmering, Unrest kind of bpm/ approach. I don't think anyone wanted that song to end, and many left the show with it reverberating in their brains as they navigated towards home.