After 26 years of fronting bands like Superchunk and Portastatic, Mac McCaughan kicked off a tour behind his first solo record, Non-Believers, last night at the Black Cat Backstage. McCaughan performed some favorite Superchunk songs like “Hello Hawk” and “Learn to Surf” by himself, but spent most of the night on songs from the new record, backed by a Ramones-inspired trio, North Carolina’s Flesh Wounds. “After 26 years, I still need a set list,” McCaughan said at one point. “One of my favorite bands was Fugazi. What blew my mind the most is that they never used a set list. If Superchunk ever went on without a set list, we wouldn’t get past the third song.”
McCaughan has said that his new record is about “exploring that early-’80s era of music when punk evolved into something more introspective,” but live, McCaughan’s punk roots definitely shone through. “D.C. is a super important place for me. I went to high school within dragging distance and always bought D.C. band records.” (A handful of the folks on those records were in the audience, too: Ian MacKaye, Alec MacKaye, and Brendan Canty.) McCaughan may have started playing a quarter-century ago, but as he proved on the set-ending “Come Upstairs,” he still plays “our noise” with joyous abandon.
See photos from the show in the gallery.