From the Hip | Sebadoh: Grown Up Indie Lo-Fi at Radio Radio

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First, it must be stated that the break up of Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) has damaged my already shaky psyche and heavily colors my view of hipness at the time this rant was put to paper.

The incredibly casual, and near perfect, frenetic chaos of both Sonic Youth and Sebadoh include the same glimpses of post-punk but depart there.

Sebadoh, with the more currently functioning relevance of The Fiery Furnaces collaborators (Jason Lowenstein and Bob D’Amico) with Barlow at the apparent helm, played all the music from Harmacy and Bake Sale not only with great craft, but true lo-fi ease and coolness.

Lowenstein and D’Amico were having a great time on stage and demonstrated great ironic humor over their current place in the aging indie rock scene. Their music, while still dissonant, shows the crafted tightness of longtime collaborators.

Last summer I saw the Pavement reunion tour and loved it. However, their performance seemed like just a reunion show, while Sebadoh still sounds like a band in development that’s charting the lo-fi slacker rock path in a way that doesn’t sound played out.

For me, this is where the musician and audience created the weirdest divergence of my musical listening experience. Because I had never really seen a great band at Radio Radio in Indianapolis, the imitation hipness of a neighborhood still finding its niche left me in a state cognitive dissonance.

The interior of the bar/club looks like a touristy bistro on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and is incredibly clean and new—not an environment suitable to my dark and brooding form of middle-aged crankiness. This is the only concert in my life where I was so acutely aware of good hygiene and was offended that I didn’t smell any pot until nearly midnight. When did my fellow rockers and I become such sad tools of the machine?  I always love to see these bands with roots in the Rust Belt, but the anger over the rust seems to be gone with the emergence of the IT geeks.

The warm up band, Mazes, is a group of young lads from as authentic an environment as can be found in the crumbling industrial world. (Read: Manchester, U.K.) And while, to me, it bears no relationship to reality, they seem to have the civil and genteel nature of their self affirmed and confident age. The NME (New Musical Express) likens them to Guided by Voices and any number of American blues rock bands. I agree with the comparison.

Despite some engineering problems with the lead singer’s voice—slightly immature, raspy, and nasal—the texture played off well against the heavy yet tight classic garage rock guitars. I bought their CD and it shows what a little sound work can do. Mazes is a band with a future.

As far as venues in Indianapolis, I prefer The Vogue---several hundred people larger, and a little more rock grime and vice. But if you want to see great bands in a small setting, Radio Radio is for you.

Photo by Phil Patterson