BEST OF BOTH WORLDS: Whether or not you were a Sebadoh—or even Dinosaur Jr.—fan back in the early ’90s, you’ve got to give props to Lou Barlow. The bassist, songwriter, and alt-rock mainstay has been churning out tunes since 1982 (when he started his first band with J Mascis), and subsequently helped to usher in the so-called dawn of indie rock.
For the unacquainted, Barlow spent a big chunk of the mid to late ’80s grinding his axe alongside Mascis and drummer Emmett Patrick “Murph” Murphy in Dinosaur Jr. before getting the boot from the notoriously “moody” frontman. From there, Barlow went on to form the lo-fi pioneering Sebadoh (and later, a handful of other projects), initially as a way to put all his discarded Dinosaur ideas to use. Twenty-five years, nine albums, and four reissues later, though, and Barlow’s Sebadoh is still going strong. (He’s also since made amends with Mascis, and now divides his time between his work and Dinosaur shows.)
This Monday, Barlow brings a new version of Sebadoh (featuring longtime bandmate Jason Loewenstein and Fiery Furnaces mainstay Bob D’Amico) to Velvet Jones in support of the recently reissued Bakesale, the band’s best selling—and arguably most approachable—record to date.
For Barlow, the tour will also double as a nice counterbalance to the onslaught of Dinosaur shows he’s been playing of late. “Sebadoh has a different kind of audience—an audience that likes to yell at us and tell us what to play. There’s a dialogue that happens between us and [the fans],” he explained. “With Dinosaur, it’s just more of a rock band. We step out and no one says anything; we just lay it down. It’s heavy, it’s loud. With Sebadoh, there’s a lot more holes in the music. It’s sparser, songs are shorter, they’re simpler; the music’s just a lot more concise. … Communication’s far more direct. It’s a totally different vibe, and it can be a lot more fun, just because it’s my thing.”
“Going back and forth between [these bands] gives me perspective,” he continued. “Having this time off from Dinosaur and doing this is going to give me a whole new perspective on the band when I re-enter that world. And it will help it; it will fortify me. Now I can get ready and build up my ego, have my songs, have my band, feel stronger and better, then get back with Dinosaur and let the beating begin. I love the punishment of Dinosaur Jr.”
Club Mercy brings Sebadoh to Velvet Jones on Monday, February 7, at 8 p.m. For tickets and info, call 965-8676 or visit clubmercy.com.
Video: Ben Wagner
ALSO THIS WEEK: This Friday, February 4, Portland’s Just People bring their jammy brand of folk, funk, and rock ‘n’ roll to the oft-overlooked Santa Barbara Brewhouse (229 West Montecito St.). The five-piece act draws loosely from influences like Talking Heads to Zeppelin, but falls more closely to SoCal posi vibers like Ben Harper and ALO. Comparisons aside, the quintet is one of those ideal Friday night catches: upbeat, soulful, and groove-filled. Just People play the Brewhouse at 8 p.m. Call 884-4664 for info.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: In what will no doubt go down in history as my biggest *facepalm* moment of 2011, I found myself toasting parental birthdays in Los Angeles right around the time the Foo Fighters plugged in for a super secret show at Velvet Jones this past Friday night. That’s right, thanks to the too-good-to-be-true folks at New Noise Santa Barbara, Dave Grohl and his band of alt-rock heroes were able to swing by and serenade a lucky throng of fans and friends in the know. The occasion: a top secret unveiling of the new Foo album, produced by Butch Vig and slated for release sometime in the coming months. The hookup: lead guitarist Chris Shiflett, who grew up in S.B. and has made Velvet (and New Noise) a frequent stop on his recent solo project tour schedules. The bonus score: former guitarist (and ex-Nirvana axe man) Pat Smear, who has returned to the Foo fold for album number seven.
According to those lucky enough to make it in the door, the night was a packed, sweaty rock-a-thon, complete with a full album sneak preview and a whole set’s worth of Foo Fighters hits. For the full rundown and post-show hoopla, visit independent.com/foofighters.