Coming back after a long hiatus can be a tricky thing. It has been 14 years between albums for Seattle indie kingpins Sebadoh, who recently released Defend Yourself, much to the joy of lo-fi '90s followers. In 2007 they re-formed after a seven-year hiatus but it took them another seven to release some new material.
What a treat to be able to stand in a tiny, dark room beneath the Factory Theatre and see one of the pivotal bands of the Pavement era. The problem, however, is that everyone just wants to hear the old stuff.
“We don't care,” fans were told. “The new stuff is funner to play.”
Surprisingly, the new and old blended beautifully anyway – a testament not only to Sebadoh's ear for cohesive sound but their ability to tap into a side of indie rock that doesn't go out of style.
This could have been any band-of-the-moment playing – it was crisp, fresh, tight and exciting. In fact, one of the highlights – the self-obsessive I Will which starts out like a lullaby before unleashing into a 50s-inspired banger – was inspired by local band Royal Headache, who frontman Lou Barlow said he found amazing.
“They kinda imprinted on me a bit,” he said.
The band sauntered smoothly from the manic and heavy (Drugs, S. Soup) to the fuzzy and lo-fi (Arbitrary High, Not Too Amused). It was a hotch-potch of crowd requests, new stuff and old tracks that somehow came together as though it were a set list that had been months in the making.
The banter between each track was, perhaps as you'd expect, awkward, drawn out and hilariously Sebadoh - like a scene out of lo-fi '90s movie Wayne's World with the bonus of Barlow's huge mop of hair.
The constant stop-start came at the expense of any momentum or explosive energy. But the mumbling, strange jokes and ungraceful movement around the stage felt like we were truly back in a Seattle dive bar.