With The Rock*A*Teens
I was in line to enter the Cat’s Cradle at 9:05, and I could hear the Rock*A*Teens already playing. Really loving that this club is starting shit right on time, but I guess I’ve got to do a better job at showing up on time. I last saw them four years ago at Merge 25, and while I never considered myself a big fan I enjoyed that gig. I felt the same way on this night; I don’t think this is because the band has changed that much, but rather my tastes have slightly shifted. I guess I do listen to a lot more jangle pop these days, and the Rock*A*Teens are kind of a slightly garage rock-ish version of that pop sound that Athens has been doing so well for four decades now (this is where I point out this band is from Atlanta, right next to Athens, for those unaware). Surprisingly, the band actually has their first new record in almost two decades, “Sixth House,” coming out in a couple of months, and the new songs they played from this really worked for me. Also, they’re a five piece now…or were they always a five piece and my brain isn’t functioning probably? Either is equally possible.
It’s always pretty full at the Cradle for Superchunk shows, but it feels like it’s been a while since they actually sold the place out, especially way in advance. I’m sure it has everything to do with all of the positive press they’ve gotten on their excellent new record “What A Time To Be Alive,” reminding many older fans who haven’t gone out and seen them in a while that it might be time to see Superchunk live again. The new record is easily their most upbeat/angry/aggro since their first few offerings in the early nineties, and these new songs lend themselves greatly to a fantastic live experience. One huge difference from the early nineties though – no matter how fast the songs are, this collection of (mostly) bald, slightly overweight dudes in their late thirties to late forties ain’t moshing no more. The crowd was way into it, lots of singing along to the hits like always, just with way less aggression. The last thing the world needs is another long-winded, fawning review of a Superchunk show from the likes of me, but trust me when I say this was one of their best performances in quite a few years. Also, they played “On The Mouth,” their best b-side of all time, and any time they play that song it’s a good gig.
Two noteworthy moments during their performance:
1. Jim Wilbur, while Mac was tuning: “If you’re tuning, I’m talking – the people want content!”
2. During the final encore song “Fishing,” Mac replaced drummer Jon Wurster mid-song and Jon took over as front man. He then proceeded to sing a medley of songs, including some Connells and Black Flag’s “My War”; he then somehow lost the mic, and, naturally, finished the song by singing unsuccessfully into the mic cord. The man is a goddamn treasure.