Lou Barlow-guitar, vocals; Bob Fay-drums; Jason Lowenstein-bass, vocals
By the time the mighty lo-fi trio reached the Fillmore in February of 1995, the Lou Barlow-led Sebadoh had been a band for nearly 10 years and had faced things that all bands of longstanding deal with in the course of a decade: In their case it was the loss of a principle founding member and all the changes that go with that. And yet, dire as it might sound and as programmed for doom as Barlow seems, he adapted quite well to the mid-'90s change, as did bandmates Jason Lowenstein and Bob Fay, the lineup corresponding to the time when Sebadoh reigned as princes of indie rock supreme.
Lou Barlow and Eric Gaffney had formed as a duo back in 1987, releasing lo-fi cassettes like Weed Forestin' and The Freed Man while Barlow was still a member of Dinosaur Jr. But when the side project's existence began to cause friction between Barlow and Dinosaur Jr.'s J Mascis, Barlow was out on his own with Gaffney, and the pair got busy amassing their catalog of songs. With the addition of Lowenstein, they popped out Sebadoh III and a couple of EPs which morphed into the longplayer, Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock, all before Gaffney's departure following the release of Bubble and Scrape in 1993.
This gig catches the band in 1995, after Gaffney's exit and well into the tenure of drummer Bob Fay, who contributed to two of the band's more enduring titles: Bake Sale and Harmacy (both scheduled for reissue in 2011). A good portion of the Fillmore set is built on the material from both albums, widely considered to be Sebadoh's more accessible works; they even had an alterna-rock hit of sorts with the guitar-strummy "Rebound," which shows up early in the set. In addition to that rockin' little ditty, Sebadoh generally builds their show on guitar numbers that grind but also burst with light energy (try "Give Up" and "The Freed Pig"). When Barlow pauses to ask, "What does it sound like out there?" he receives cheers of approval, though he doesn't seem convinced; nevertheless he lights up the moody spark of Bakesale's "Together or Alone" and feels it. And though melancholy Lou's "Soul and Fire," stands in stark contrast to Jason's bratty "Sister" and the unwieldy noisefest, "Flood," the essence of this power trio is their tangled triangle of emotion: The highs, the lows, and the messy in-betweens are what Sebadoh's all about.