Friday, July 30, 2010
Superchunk / Ryan Gustaffson at the Cat's Cradle 5/21/2010
with Ryan Gustaffson
SUPERCHUNK! Let the record show that this band was, is and continues to be one the awesomest awesomers of all time. These are indisputable facts, folks.
But first, there was an opener - Ryan Gustafson. I remember back in the day every Superchunk opener was another Merge artist, but now they're tapping the resources of the local hot-shit loose-knit gathering of musicians and bands known as the Drughorse Collective. Not to be confused the pretty awesome metal band from the Bay Area Drunk Horse. All I know is I wouldn't want to be around a drugged horse or a drunk horse, as those fuckers are scary enough sober. And I'm rambling, so this review is going as expected.
As for what Mr. Gustafson sounds like - well, not unlike many of the other Drughorse acts, they walk a fine line between power pop and folky alt-country croonings. The best of his upbeat songs reminded me a lot of Sloan, and the mellower tracks I couldn't place a comparison, but was quite good. I liked the pop songs the most, but with his fantastic voice he could "sing the phonebook" as they say and it would make for a good performance.
It was an interesting show for local kings of the scene, Superchunk...apparently the set list was made up almost entirely of requests (from the Merge staff I think, and maybe some other randoms), which resulted in a show that was heaven for super fans like me but much less exciting for the people I knew there who had never seen the Chunk before.
Requests from a band by long time fans usually means one thing - lots of old songs. They basically played the entire "On the Mouth" album - "I Guess I Remembered It Wrong", "Precision Auto", "For Tension", "From the Curve"...hell, they even played "On the Mouth" which was the b-side of the "Mower" single (and could also be found on "Incidental Music", the second of their singles comps). Some other noteworthy tracks that night were "Sidewalk", which the band claimed had only been played live once, and a couple of new songs, one ("Digging for Something") which features John Darnielle of the Mountain Goats on backing vocals, and luckily he was at the show to provide them in person. And also dance around the stage like a spazz, which delighted everyone in attendance to no end.
At the end of the set and during the encores they hit some of their highlights, "slack Motherfucker" and "Hyper Enough" and "Water Wings"...the sort of songs that get all us old folks pogoing around like we did back in the early nineties. And let it be known the crowd was quite ancient - these days I'm that creepy old dude that I used to make fun of in my early twenties, but I was feeling pretty young and spry with this group. But young, old, ugly or bold, I'll suffer any indignation or categorization to see the glory of Superchunk live.