The View from the Road III: SEBADOH – at (my) home in VANCOUVER

Not every day you get to host yer favourite indie-rock band – Sebadoh – in your own hometown…and then in your own home.

Or help co-ordinate an in-store appearance that Lou Barlow will later call one of his favourites.

Naww, these things happen far too infrequently. But yeah, so Sebadoh came to Vancouver. And slept over at mine. You know. The usual.

Here’s documented proof of SeBADoh’s visit to the HOMETOWN OF THE BACKSTAGERIDER (hey! That’s me!) in Vancouver, British Columbia including pictures, vowels and consonants. Plus bonus punctuation and bolded font.

Sebadoh Soundcheck, Rickshaw Vancouver, Mikala Taylor photo

Sebadoh arrive in Vancouver in the pissing cold rain in one of the city/country’s dodgiest neighbourhoods, around 5pm. A stagehand at the Rickshaw Theatre is wearing a purple and gold “C*NT F*CK” t-shirt, and it’s bloody freezing in the venue. Jake tries to sleep in one of the seats while we all wander around looking for things to burn for warmth. The Rick is a former Chinese movie theatre and the walls are cement. It’s punk rock/industrial. I tell Lou about the time Deerhunter played here and two girls came dressed up as a deer. And a hunter. He laughs. Soundcheck down, it’s time to stand in the sleet and try and get a cab to Zulu Records – one of the city’s best record stores.

Lou Barlow at Zulu Records, Mikala Taylor photo

Sniffly and filled with cold, Lou and I arrive but pop across the street from Zulu to have Japanese, whilst Jake and Bob wander elsewhere for food and to pass time while Lou’s doing his in-store. He’s got his guitar case, and we both order sashimi and miso soup. He tends to eat fish before shows. These are ROCK TRIVIA FACTS THAT WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE, YES?

At Zulu, he plugs in and plays for almost an hour – way longer than everyone had expected….and legendary local punk rock photographer Bev Davies is there to snap it. I introduce ’em afterwards.

Surrounded by a full shop, Lou mumbles and quietly sings into blown speakers (a punk band had been the last in-store) between songs. He is charming but maddeningly self-deprecating. I want to slap him…which I tell him afterward. The assembled throng is clearly rapt and adore him, but he claims the rain and his cold is making him feel very mellow. Still, he says, he’s really, really happy to be there and thankful everyone came out. One believes him.

He asks for requests and actually manages to play a few of them. The rest he dismisses as either being “terrible” (eg his own “Faith in Your Heartbeat”), or he can’t remember, or doesn’t work on the guitar he brought. Someone requests the Guided By Voices cover he did (“Game of Pricks”) recently, but he jokes that he can’t play it now. He hadn’t wanted to commit Robert Pollard’s song to memory, apparently because he once heard that Pollard said he was a better songwriter than Lou. Lou says Pollard was right. He is not. Instead he plays  “Imagination Blind”, “Sharing”, “Love is Stronger”, “Skull”, “Think (Let Tomorrow Bee)”, “Willing to Wait”, “Home”, “Ballad of Daykitty” (which he seems surprised was a request – and it leaves folks smiling), “Pearl” , “Easy”, “Take Advantage”, “Brand New Love”, “Too Much Freedom” and “Legendary”. (Thanks Jack Static, for the roundup). It’s remarkable really. Even with a head-full of snot, Lou’s just…cool.

Lou Barlow, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

Then it’s back to the Rick. Jake tries again to get some sleep backstage but it’s too cold. He wanders outside for a smoke. Finds some friends. It’s an all-ages show and Lou’s selling t-shirts. The long-running joke of the tour is that since the Bakesale reissue won’t be out until April in the UK (on Domino) and June in North America (on SubPop), is that Sebadoh are now on tour for their t-shirt. Lou meets fans, signs posters. Two young girls literally run away from him, squealing, after getting stuff signed. One was a major Dino Jr fan, the other a major Sebadoh fan. He’s touched. “Soooo cute,” he says. I introduce him to my friends, get him a whiskey. It helps his throat.

Jason Loewenstein, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

Jake’s songs sound amazing tonight. “Shit Soup” and “Got It” are building to be my faves. Loewenstein is incendiary with gravelly bellow, and SUCH a great guy to hang with. Super-funny. It’s brilliant to have two songwriters trading off mics and songs and JakeRock, rocks. And this time, unlike the audience of Portland’s nodding beardos, the Vancouver audience is alive, moving and engaged. Wasted happy, even. They’re headbanging, bounce-moshing a bit. Everyone is smiling. It’s a great energy and the best of the four shows I saw.

Bob D'Amico, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

Bob’s a monster live and the band play to the crowd.

Dear Audiences Everywhere: I know this is a radical notion, but THE BAND RESPOND TO YOU. You wanna go big or go home? It’s pretty likely the band will oblige on the Go Big front. Just throw us some love.

Sincerely, Rock Bands Everwhere.

Songs bite harder tonight, move faster. “Crystal Gypsy” is a welcome smack, “Beauty of the Ride” speeds, even “Magnet’s Coil” sounds ferocious. That Bob D’Amico guy? Yeah….love.

Lou Barlow, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

Vancouver crowd, Rickshaw, Mikala Taylor photo

Lou loved this picture. “It’s so poignant, really,” he says. Sometimes, it’s nice to close your eyes and be back in the 90s when everything was so fucked up in your life and music saved you. Right?

Lou Barlow, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

30 songs later, the band have wrapped up at the Rick, packed up and are heading over to crash at Casa Backstage Rider. My 20-year-old self squees inside. We stay up late, having beers, (white wine for Lou), smokes and laughs. Lou gets on this track about a little emo girl at the show tonight who was wearing some pretty hardcore patches sewn on her jacket, and we talk about my predilection for urban vinyl toys and Pete Fowler’s Monsterism Island. Like a geek, I show them my diary of the first time I ever met them, how it started back in ’93 (started seein’ things so differently). Lou and I laugh over a letter he once sent me in back then.

And in the morning…

Lou Barlow at Casa BackstageRider, Mikala Taylor photo

Lou: “Would you like some bacon, Bob?

Bob D'Amico at Casa BackstageRider, Mikala Taylor photo

Bob: “Why, yes please, Lou, I would love some bacon”

(Jake does not eat bacon. He’s a vegetarian and has a pet pig called Emmett, whom I covet. I felt bad for serving it, really. But the rest of the boys seemed to want it. Mmmm, thick-cut.)

Lou Barlow at Casa BackstageRider, Mikala Taylor photo

Lou checkin’ his email in my rockroom office. Surrounded by concert tickets, posters, pics of me as a kid with band, drum sticks and…errrr, posters of Dino Jr and Folk Implosion. *face palm*

Jason Loewenstein, Sebadoh, Mikala Taylor photo

And after breakfast, it was time for rockhands and off to Seattle in the SebaVan! Stay tuned for the round up of my final day out with the ‘Doh.\m/


The View from the Road I – Sebadoh in San Francisco

The View from the Road II – Sebadoh in Portland

The View from the Road IV – Sebadoh in Seattle

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