Having Sebadoh play their Bubble and Scrape album in its entirety sounds good on paper, but executing it live is a different story.
Let me explain:
When Sebadoh was actually playing their distorted little gems from their 1993 album, they sounded great, sounded relevant, sounded like they should be touring the world today. But here’s the problem–and I’m sure when the band recorded Bubble and Scrape they never realized that they’d be playing the album from beginning to end some 15 years later–the three members of Sebadoh share lead singing duties on the album’s 17 tracks. Not only that, but between every couple songs, there would be a minute-and-a-half stop-down as Lou Barlow, Eric Gaffney, and Jason Loewenstein swapped instruments (any momentum they built up with the previous song was gone before they began each new tune).
(left to right: Eric Gaffney, Lou Barlow, and Jason Loewenstein)
Though the album didn’t make for a tight rock show, Lou Barlow did manage to lighten up the mood with some classic, Lou Barlow humor. When Loewenstein made a reference to Sebadoh’s website, Barlow countered, “No talking about websites on stage. That’s one of my rules.” Later in the set, Barlow prefaced “Homemade” by saying, “This is my wife’s least favorite song–it’s about masturbation.” Near the end of Sebadoh’s performance Gaffney unexpectedly whizzed some CD’s into the crowd.
“What was that?” asked Barlow.
Loewenstein replied, “Chinese death stars.”
Barlow looked back and warned, “Watch it, we don’t have insurance Gaffney.”
Public Enemy’s Bomb Squad, who was setting up their equipment on the concert ground’s other stage, added insult to injury by sound-checking their turntables during Sebadoh’s stop-downs. Every time they scratched a record, a good portion of the crowd made their way over to Public Enemy’s stage to squat a spot for their performance of It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back.
Though P.E. is one of my favorite musical acts of all-time, something didn’t feel right about the Bomb Squad showing up Sebadoh at an indie music festival.
The “Ah, shucks” moment of the set came when Barlow thanked Pitchfork for inviting Sebadoh to play and said to his bandmates, “We don’t see each other very often, It’s nice to have a reason to get together.”