I noticed Lou Barlow walking through the crowd about half an hour before opening act The Bent Mustache took the stage. For having been such an influential force in indie music for almost 20 years, Barlow exudes very little self-importance. Slipping behind The Bent Mustache's drummer, Barlow casually took over merch-table duty, because that's the kind of thing Sebadoh has always done. I must report, though, that there were no hand-drawn magic marker t-shirts for this tour.
When Sebadoh took the stage, one at a time, it was to surprisingly little fanfare. Eric Gaffney, clearly the rock star of the bunch in his tight pants and hipster jacket, strapped on an acoustic guitar. Suddenly excited that we might be treated to a stripped down, acoustic show (thinking of Sebadoh's all-acoustic tour of a few year's back), I must admit a strange sense of disappointment when he plugged the thing in. Then Jason Lowenstein stepped behind the kit, and Lou rounded things out on bass.
Working the higher reaches of his fret-board like a madman, Barlow's lead-guitar bass lines anchored the band and drove them forward, launching into a career spanning set studded with crowd pleasing favorites and some new material from their tour-only CD. The band touched every period and style in their catalogue, all the way back to blistering punk rock blitzkrieg "Crisis", from Smash your Head on the Punk Rock.
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The band nailed several Sebadoh III cuts, including a wonderfully noisy, incredibly quick version of "Attention." Fortunately for me, the band also highlighted my favorite Sebadoh album, Harmacy. The only thing that could have improved the set would have been if Barlow's vocals, always one of the highlights of Sebadoh's quiet/loud dichotomy, had been mixed more toward the front. Overall, the band was in top form, shaking it down from start to finish. - Nick Hall