Sebadoh – Baby’s All Right – February 25, 2014
For any out-of-towners now living in Brooklyn, have you ever felt embarrassed to tell people you live there? Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein occasionally does, something he confessed last night at Baby’s All Right, on the final stop of the band’s tour promoting their latest release, Defend Yourself. It’s the band’s first release since 1999. They’ve never actually broken up, it’s just that Lou Barlow likes to put out albums when he feels like he can write one and it’s the right time to do so. The group’s output has cemented their role in the close circle of indie-rock royalty, although you’d never know that just based off the humble way they carry themselves. Barlow still sits at the merch table to sell records—or cassettes, which he says sell better in Brooklyn than anywhere else, go figure—while Loewenstein can be seen near the front row rocking out to opening act Octagrape.
Sebadoh play their music with a degree of nonchalance common among other great ’90s indie acts (think: Pavement or Dinosaur Jr., a band Barlow plays bass in), although their lyrics tend to be much more candid and confessional. The songs on their latest album cover topics as wide-ranging as Barlow’s recent divorce to dropping off his daughter at school to feeling inadequate while looking at the muscular calves of other Los Angeles dads (“State of Mine”). The band also has an uncanny ability to rock off the rails with technically challenging yet loosely held together jams.
Sebadoh let the main riff from “Careful” run absolutely wild, almost seeming like they had little control over the squealing guitars and bass thumps emanating from their instruments, as if they were casually trying to domesticate the noise. Barlow and Loewenstein switched instruments and lead-singer duties several times throughout the night. They ended their set with the hard-hitting song “The Freed Pig” followed by the more down-tempo and sentimental “Willing to Wait.” Two different sides of the same coin, both Sebadoh songs right down to the core. —Dan Rickershauser