Nine years. Nine years is a long time for pretty much anything, but, apart from The Wrens, nine years between records for an intact band is not the norm. But Superchunk, who visited the 9:30 Club on Friday in support of its first full-length since 2001, Majesty Shredding, has never fallen into the “norm” category. It’s long played the music game on its terms and done so quite successfully (Merge, anyone?). Nine years has also moved all of the band’s members into their 40s. “So,” you may ask, “Superchunk shows used to be really energetic and amped…was Friday’s show a calmer, more stated and mature affair than in years past?” Well, watching lead singer/guitarist Mac McCaughan and bassist Laura Ballance as they bounced and pogoed nonstop for 90 minutes, while drummer Jon Wurster and guitarist Jim Wilbur kept up a breakneck pace, I’d have to answer, “Uh, nope, not by a long shot.”
Playing from a setlist that included many of the stand out tracks from Majesty, such as “Digging for Something,” “Crossed Wires,” and “Learned to Surf,” as well as older favorites like “Precision Auto,” “Iron On,” “Hello Hawk,” and the usual encore ender “Slack Motherfucker,” they also went off-list a couple times with “a request from the Internet” and from a guy in the front row. However, the Sebadoh cover of “Brand New Love” was absolutely otherwordly.
NPR has the Superchunk set up for your streaming pleasure here.
Chunk brought along two openers, the influencer of all good power pop bands, Tommy Keene, and Merge’s own Let’s Wrestle, who put on stellar sets. Keene’s retrospective record just came out and is a must-own for anyone into power pop (Keene sort of wrote the book on it if you don’t know his work).
Let’s Wrestle’s sound is catchy and hook-filled on all levels, especially “We Are the Men You’ll Grow to Love Soon”; think The Beatles going surfing. They are recording their debut full-length with Steve Albini next week in Chicago, so look for that sometime in the next year from Merge.
Additional photos from all sets can be found here.