It’s an incredibly rainy night in Toronto. Not one where you want to be standing in line outside a club as is often expected for higher profile showcases during Canadian Music Week. As luck would have it, The Horseshoe Tavern had just started to get busy as I arrived. Clothes may have been wet but spirits were definitely not dampened. Yes my aging bones do not react well to temperature fluctuation and judging by the capacity crowd on hand tonight, I’m sure quite a few others were in a similar position.
We’re all here to see our 90s indie rock heroes, Sebadoh. Part of the indie rock elite that help pave the way for the countless other heart-on-sleeve emoters, Lou Barlow and Jason Lowenstein prove they are still the gold standard.
As they nonchalantly take the stage, I’m struck by how ageless they look. With every right to be strapped in attitude given their pedigree (Barlow’s other group being Dinosaur Jr.), Sebadoh take the opposite approach and ease in with the slow creeper Not a Friend, off their landmark album Bakesale. With particular attention paid to that album (Got It/Rebound/Skull) and their most recent offering from 2013, Defend Yourself (State of Mine/Defend Yr Self/Beat/I Will), the band hit most of the talking points from their illustrious career.
Surprisingly, they skipped over the album that put them on the map, Bubble and Scrape. Besides Soul and Fire, early material was ignored given their shorter CMW set time. However, one particular talent for Sebadoh is their ability to stay consistent. Songs from each album line-up nicely with nothing sounding particularly dated or out of place.
As Lowenstein and Barlow share songwriting duties, there is a tendency to compartmentalize the band in to two parts. This fact was accentuated by the 5 Lowenstein songs seemingly inserted in the middle of the set. Playful banter made light of the situation, proving this is a band of professionals who have clearly been at longer than their still youthful glow might suggest.