Sebadoh 2012: Still College Rock After All These Years
So it was with much anticipation that I looked forward to seeing Sebadoh on the current tour. The lineup was stacked -- Jason and Bob's crushingly heavy Circle of Buzzards, Barlow solo, and then Sebadoh. How the years apart had affected Sebadoh's sound and Barlow's newer songwriting chops were foremost on my mind. Sebadoh packed fans into Schubas, a club that barely holds 200 people. The older crowd seemed wall to wall beards and backpacks. Cans of PBR were held aloft alongside expensive mixers, yet all had a good time in what was guaranteed to be a small, intimate set -- at least until Sebadoh rocked too hard.
The set was filled with many old songs, but also most of the tracks off their self-released Secret EP, that will serve as a teaser for a new full-length next year. These tracks are as tight and fun as anything on the other Sebadoh records. They were a treat live, particularly Loewenstein's "My Drugs" and Barlow's "Arbitrary High." The band maintained a good-natured vibe, as they tried to get Loewenstein to do his country number, "I Don't Mind," and several attempts were made, with Barlow aping the song, telling the audience "I just wanted to sing that line." This easy vibe made the set even more enjoyable, as the band stormed through many songs across their varied catalog, including many from III, Bakesale, and Harmacy, with just a few from The Sebadoh. Standouts included Barlow's "Rebound, "Magnet's Coil," and Loewenstein's "Crystal Gypsy."
All in all, the show was fun and necessary. All my apprehensions that they wouldn't deliver came to naught. Sebadoh is a band that continues to grow and make records. Their show is somewhat scattered, but as with all great bands, they incorporate their mistakes into the set, coming off stronger because of their mistakes. It is apparent that they still enjoy playing together, and their newer songs add much to their legacy. Plus, someone needs to hold the torch up high for college rock. As Barlow said during the show: "Americana, Indie Rock, Alternative. It used to all be called college rock."