Thurs Aug 12
10 SW 3rd
For a band of seemingly amiable characters, Sebadoh sure gets a lot of shit. Granted, when you look at the band's awkward, insular offspring the world over, all crafting the kind of likeminded music that makes listening to the vast majority of indierock so completely insufferable, it's difficult not to pin some of the blame on the surely blushing Lou Barlow. Though his songwriting is arguably (and unreliably) marked with genius, there's no mistaking that Barlow largely writes wiener music for wiener people--like the very people who ape his perpetually earnest, perpetually cheerless shtick. But let me remind you, dear reader, that at its prime Sebadoh was something far greater than just Barlow's earnest indie everyman--it was also Eric Gaffney. And with this glaring omission, I'm a little reticent to accept a so-called Sebadoh "reunion."
Largely the forgotten Sebadoh, Gaffney co-founded the band in 1989 after Lou Barlow got his ass kicked out of Dinosaur Jr. (by the infinitely cooler J. Mascis) as a vehicle for both songwriters' disparate works. Between '89 and '94, Gaffney quit and rejoined Sebadoh several times, finally signing off before the band hit their mid-'90s stride of success. Because of this, it's easy to forget Gaffney's seminal roll in the Sebadoh aesthetic--the half of Sebadoh that wasn't so goddamn meek. The dynamic often glossed over by Sebadoh revisionists, Sebadoh wasn't always heart-torn music to give your girlfriend a hard time by--it was also sometimes totally fucking awesome.
Gaffney's manic id played perfect foil to the domineering Barlow aesthetic. And though perhaps not always technically "good music," Gaffney's lack of sentimentality (see songs like, "As the World Dies, the Eyes of God Grow Bigger" and "Telecosmic Alchemy,") was what made the formula work--besides making Barlow's songs look better by proxy. Upon Gaffney's departure, the gaping hole of juxtaposition was left to the band's hired drummer, whose shiftless sensibility--a fold of both Gaffney and Barlow--did little to relieve us from Barlow's looming sissy.
Of course, none of this is going to matter to all the wieners who'll be in attendance this Thursday at Berbati's--they'll get their wiener music (with pre-recorded drums) in spades. And I'll be there, too--chanting "Cecilia Chime In Melee."