Sebadoh // Live Review


Dingwalls – November 4th | See more photos from the show here…

‘I’m so fancy, you already know’ coos Lou Barlow as another Sebadoh show implodes around him….

Before that, new kids on the block, Nottingham’s Kagoule, have got proceedings off to a thrillingly rowdy start, stacking grungy, fuzzed-up kicks high and swapping boy-girl harmonies with winning suss. Ignore your friend in the pub that said they sound a bit like Placebo, that guy knows nothing, instead savour those moments – those moments that are always best – when melody wrestles its way through the noise and shines brightly before being knocked back by another barrage of joyful racket.

And, then, there’s Lou, Charli XCX’ing his way through his own, less joyful, racket.

We’ve been here before, we’ve been here countless times; years and years of watching Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein confuddled by tech glitch, smothered in gear malfunction, blasting us with accidental feedback, making us recoil as various bits of kit squawk and screech for no apparent reason. Except we don’t recoil, we stay on the spot. It’s kinda what we want from a Sebadoh show. This is our Sebadoh, the band we followed from venue to venue (the never-glam Harlow Square one night, the moniker-never-quite explained Sausage Machine club in Camden the next two nights running, and onwards and more. Wherever they went, we went), the band that wrote the messiest, prettiest, weirdest songs, the band that could have called their first few albums and EPs Songs About Heartbreak, Wanking and Weed: Volumes One To Six. The band that made the only record my parents ever begged me to turn off (take a bow, The Freed Man). Lumped in with the grunge lot, but actually an antidote to it, Sebadoh made sense of all the messy, pretty, weirdness of being a teenager and made records that still sound absolutely fucking vital god knows how many years later.  And so this review is kinda a review of every Sebadoh show I ever saw, and kinda a review of Sebadoh right here in front of us in Dingwalls; Lou looking pissed – the American kind – and beseeching us to buy lavender coloured t-shirts (and good god is it ever lavender in the cold light of day), Jason looking pissed – the UK kind – and laughing the mess off whilst studying the set list from a tiny bit of scrunched-up paper pulled from his back pocket.

“C’mon these are the best songs we ever wrote” implores Lou, when tracks from last year’s (fucking excellent) Defend Yourself meet less cheer than earlier songs, and he’s probably right – he’s definitely right – but they’re not the songs that we listened to on buses to college with our best friends, or patched-up wounded hearts to,  and they’ll never mean quite as much to us. Instead we’re losing the plot and dancing hard to ‘Rebound’, revelling in the rolling discordancy of ‘Ride The Darker Wave’ and – and you won’t believe this unless you have no reason not to believe this – even a giddy romp through the greatest indie rock song anyone ever wrote about indie rock, ‘Gimmie Indie Rock’ which nobody quite believes is really going to happen until we’re halfway through and they ain’t gonna stop now. A vicious shredding of ‘Brand New Love’ wraps things up, captures all the glory of Sebadoh, all the thrills and noise and ‘shit dude, you really fucking get it’ lyrics, leaves us wanting more and knowing we’ll be back next time and every time after that.