Sebadoh delivered a charged shot of nostalgia to the Larimer Lounge with tour mates Quasi on Wednesday night. Lou Barlow, Jason Loewenstein and drummer Bob D’Amico played for about two hours and likely burned through 30 songs.
Present were the eclectic tempos and amount of distortion that cut a swath right through the middle of the Sebadoh catalog. Not present was founding member Eric Gaffney, appropriate since this is supposed to be a “Bakesale” and “Harmacy” reissue tour — “Bakesale” being the first album released without Gaffney. Similarly, D’Amico is a drummer carried over from Loewenstein’s other projects (Circle of Buzzards and Fiery Furnaces) and not Bob Fay who originally recorded “Bakesale” with Loewenstein and Barlow.
Sebadoh played to a mixed audience made up of its cult following and broader fans. The commercial success of “Bakesale” and “Harmacy” (helped by Barlow’s Folk Implosion hit “Natural One”) turned out young fans and old. Newer fans, or those who came for Quasi and stayed later out of “Isn’t that the Dinosaur Jr. guy?” respect, might have been turned off a little by Barlow’s cynical, dry humor in the spacious gaps between songs. But the die hards-ate it up.
Barlow was reactionary to some members of the crowd who occasionally let out a “Less talk, more rock!” but was either genuinely or sarcastically prepared for a level of heckling that he never received. He told several anecdotes, some of which centered on how terrible record labels are, summing up his frustration by mentioning that “Sebadoh is on tour in support of our new t-shirt.” In light of the “baggage” that they bring with them, Sebadoh delivered a knock out show. Loewenstein and Barlow switched between vocals, bass and guitar frequently and both showed amazing prowess in every arrangement.
Quasi is opening all of Sebadoh’s dates and has the same claim to a lengthy career and “home band after all other side-projects and more successful bands” status for its members. Janet Weiss has a cult following all her own as well as many careers worth of playing with the likes of Joanna Bolme and Sam Coomes. While Weiss and Bolme hold down the rhythm section easily, Coomes is the active frontman who really give Quasi the momentum from stage left. Constantly swinging his guitar inches from the front row’s heads and smashing his whole body into his road-worn keyboard, Coomes has left it all on stage for decades. Quasi mentioned the last time they were in Denver, again at Larimer, playing to a blizzard-sized crowd of a baker’s dozen. Although their set on Tuesday night was very short, they rewarded faithful followers with new music and raucous takes on classics.
Marc Hobelman makes websites at The Denver Post, tweets pictures of his cat, and is a regular contributor to Reverb.
Joe McCabe is a Denver photographer and a regular contributor to Reverb. Check out his website.