Wednesday, December 1, 2010
First Avenue, Minneapolis
It was a dicey afternoon for Superchunk as they arrived here from Raleigh and lead singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan's guitar did not arrive with them. After much chatter on Twitter and a few phone calls they found a replacement courtesy of locals Solid Gold, and then McCaughan's arrived at the last minute--serendipitous, to say the least, and a harbinger of what was to come Wednesday night at First Avenue.
[jump] After a long, joke-filled tune-up by all the band members ("They used to just start without me," guitarist Jim Wilbur wryly noted), Superchunk began with "Silverleaf and Snowy Tears"--a perfect intro for a blustery winter night. Though the set got going a bit slow, there was clearly no rust on these songs (or the band) at all. Until this year's Majesty Shredding, they hadn't released an album since 2001, and until recently hadn't played regularly as a band, either. Despite that, however, the songs still had white-hot fire in them. "The Question Is How Fast" from 1993's On The Mouth is still powerful enough to knock a man down, and the slow-burn "Mower" from the same release is still a knife to the heart some 17 years later.
What was most incredible, though, was how good the songs from Majesty Shredding are when mixed in with the older material. Though it was only released two months ago, it's safe to say that it will become an all-time favorite for many, with songs like "Learned To Surf" and "Digging For Something" more than holding their own in the onslaught of buzzy guitars and McCaughan's unmistakable not-quite-falsetto vocals. Though the younger people in the crowd were enjoying the show, they looked kind of lost; but the over-30 attendees knew just what to do: pogo, flail, start an occasional mosh pit and sing along at the tops of their lungs. Most everyone was having an absolute blast for the entire hour-long set.
Superchunk hit high gear with "Driveway To Driveway" and continued the jarring pace with "The First Part" and "Cast Iron," which held over into the quick-and-dirty encore that reminded those who love Superchunk just exactly why. It began with a pin-neat version of "Throwing Things" that gave over to a cover of Hüsker Dü's "Something I Learned Today" ("One of our favorite songs to come out of this town," McCaughan told the crowd). The encore closed with a positively scorching "Slack Motherfucker"--their all-time classic, their all-time great. McCaughan did his best Pete Townshend and bassist Laura Ballance finally cracked a smile.
It had been a long day for Superchunk, but whatever lingering ugliness from earlier in the day may have been present at the beginning of the show had to have been gone by the end. Superchunk may be getting older but they should be looked upon as the model of how to age gracefully and garner respect and admiration while doing so--it's no small feat and should turn other bands of their ilk green with envy.
Critic's Bias: I so badly wanted Superchunk's Foolish to be about me that I sabotaged a relationship my freshman year of college thinking the album would mean more.
The Crowd: A mix of old fans who loved every second of the show and new fans wondering where all the old people came from.
Overheard In The Crowd: "Dude, so many hot, older women in here. Older women are where it's at."
Random Notebook Dump: "The energy coming off the stage is incredible."
For More Photos: See our full slideshow by Alexa Jones.
Silverleaf and Snowy Tears
The Question is How Fast
Like A Fool
Learned To Surf
Digging For Something
Driveway To Driveway
The First Part
Everything At Once
Something I Learned Today (Husker Du cover)