Sunday, November 27, 2016

Superchunk / Skylar Gudasz at Dorton Arena - 10/19/2016

Superchunk
With Skylar Gudasz
Dorton Arena
10/19/2016

The folks that used to handle the music booking for the North Carolina State Fair made a great decision last year - instead of throwing a lot of money at washed-up and never-has-been rockers, country crooners, and family friendly fare, give a little money to a local agency who can book local musicians and actually support local North Carolinians, one of the main reasons to even have a state fair.  The hard work of local scribe Grayson Haver Currin probably helped them make this decision to change by digging up just how much money the Fair folks were losing on the crappy, mostly unwanted acts they used to book - it was going so wrong, why not try something else?  Long story short, a bunch of shit changed behind the scenes at the State Fair and now I get to see Superchunk in Dorton Arena for free after walking around eating junk food all day. 

First though was Skylar Gudasz, their opener for the night.  I got to the venue in time to see most of her set, getting slightly delayed because I stopped first to eat a cinnamon roll half the size of my head.  One of my better life decisions.  She was fronting a six-piece band featuring two keyboardists (one of which was sometimes Skylar) and the drummer from Flesh Wounds (I'm not sure what bands the other members are from, but they all looked familiar).  Most of Skylar's performance focused on her debut album "Oleander," but there was a couple of new songs as well - if those are a preview of her next release, I predict another gem.  Her voice was as strong as ever, and sounded damn good in Dorton - I've always heard folks say the sound in there was subpar, but it seemed pretty dialed in this night.  It should be noted that she doesn't sound quite as much like Karen Carpenter in person as she does on record...though it would be totally fine if she did. 

After not getting to see Superchunk for a couple of years, this would be my second time in three months.  That's great and all, but it's still not as often I'd like - once a month would be a lot better.  You could tell they were excited to play such a legendary venue - drummer Jon Wurster even posted a selfie on Instagram in the backstage shower where "Gene Simmons might've had 2-minute workmanlike sex in 1976."  For whatever reason they leaned heavily on their classic hits this night, putting together what might be the strongest set list I've ever seen by them.  The highlights included "For Tension," "Detroit Has a Skyline," "Skip Steps One & Three," "Driveway to Driveway," "The First Part," a very rare appearance of "Her Royal Fisticuffs," "Nu Bruises," "Cast Iron," a cover of the Magnetic Fields' "100,000 Fireflies," and they ended the night with "Throwing Things."  That's basically every single one of my favorite Superchunk songs minus "Animated Airplanes Over Germany" and "Why Do You Have To Put a Date on Everything."  Due to profanity rules from either Dorton Arena or the State Fair officials, for the first time in forever they didn't play "Slack Motherfucker" so as not to offend any old church ladies or small children or old church children or small ladies that might have wandered into the free show.  Fuck it though, they would have been a little better off in life to hear a little live Superchunk, curse words or not. 

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