I Needed Sunshine: SEBADOH return to form (and to Vancouver) Photos/Review

“It’s great to be back in Canada again,” says Lou Barlow from behind the unruly beasts that are his curls. “It’s our favourite country. Jake even has a sticker on the back of his bass….”

“…And I didn’t just put it on there,” Jason Loewenstein laughs, showing the crowd the Canada flag sticker slapped on his bass. “He even has a Canada shirt he wears a lot,” continues Barlow. “….Because I had, like, five of them,” finishes Loewenstein, busting into that distinctly Jake grin. “Oh. That’s why,” deadpans Barlow, chuckling.

The crowd laugh along, swooning a bit. Because it’s great, indeed, to have Sebadoh back in Canada again.
Sebadoh photo, by Mikala Folb/backstagerider
How the hell has it been five years since these three guys – the band I used to work with, whom I went on the Weezer Cruise with, whom I toured Germany with, whom I have known since 1993played Vancouver with Thurston Moore? Inescusable. So here we are now, five years older, with new wives and partners and kids and 1,825 days between us.

But nevermind, they’re here now and that’s what matters (and thank you Vancouver for turning up and making it worth their while) and kicked off their June 1 set at the Fox Cabaret with last-album’s (Defend Yourself) “I Will” before barging headlong into 9 tracks from their excellent new album Act Surprised.

Lou takes the first shift with “See Saw”, then incredibly hooky “Sunshine” (along with Loewenstein’s “Raging River”, it’s one of the strongest tracks on a the very solid new album, total earworm) and “Medicate.”

Medicate, I hate my brain
I’ll cover up the pain it creates
Prescribe the ride for me
And when my body wants it I’m your slave

Many of us can relate. It’s been a long five years. And as it is with, like, all of Lou Barlow’s lyrics, we’re riding sidecar to the inner workings of his mind and life since the last album. You kind of never have to guess what’s been going on with him – it’s all there, buoyed by bold riffs. Authentic, anxious, sweet, confused, bitter, angry, reflective, in love, out of love, all around again. There aren’t many myths or legends in a Barlow song, just…biography. Ergo when you see ’em live you get comments like: “Lou’s kind of like a friend ” (says my friend Rob, who’s only met Lou once for 5 minutes).

After the four pack o’Lou, it’s time for the ol’ Sebadoh switcheroo, and Loewenstein and Barlow swap stage sides – and new patch cords, I mean, it wouldn’t be a Sebadoh gig without some form of mild technical issues – for six chunky Loewenstein songs. “Drag Down” from The Sebadoh is the only oldie in the batch of otherwise week-old tracks, but they all rock and the crowd seems appreciative. Loewenstein has been coming into his own over this past decade as a super strong songwriter of twangy punk ‘choons (do check out his awesome solo elpee Spooky Action, please) and this particular Seba-set as a whole feels owned by him. Barlow happily assumes the bouncin’ bass god role over stage left and wails through with his own-brand Dinosaur Jr bass-hammering intensity.  The band have, to be honest, never sounded so tight. And your Backstagerider here, is grinning ear to ear like a proud sister.

Meanwhile, drummer Bob D’Amico (an absolutely astounding musician in his own right) thumps through a really bad flu, sweating out evil and filling the room with fills while Barlow tunes his guitar. After one particularly jazzy, high-hat-ty roll that he and Loewenstein cheekily throw out with a bit of laugh, Barlow finishes up his tuning, then says “a little part of me dies every time they do things like that.” D’Amico and Loewenstein laugh, the crowd laugh, and swoon some more.

But what they’re waiting for, of course, are more of the classics. ‘Doh oblige with a roaring “Beauty of the Ride” and the absolutely stellar Bubble & Scrape classic, “Forced Love” (possibly my favouritest Sebasong ever – I staked my claim as such in this article in The Guardian), before Loewenstein wraps it all up with “My Drugs” and “Got It.” Barlow asks the time and, upon finding out that they’ve got room for just one more (because of the venue’s strict curfew) sounds a little disappointed. “What? We were just getting started!” Then they roar into closer “Careful”, another B&S rockstar.

Sebadoh were just getting started. It wasn’t enough and we could have listened all night. This is a new, and more cohesive, Sebadoh. It’s a new era for the band, and they’re sounding spectacular. \m/

Buy Act Surprised on Dangerbird Records now. They play Germany and the UK in October, so if you have a chance, GO. Click on the photos below to embiggen and scroll through. >>

This post is dedicated to Emmett Pig. 🐗

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *