No one was supposed to like Sebadoh, a “project” started by Lou Barlow in 1988 before he was tossed unceremoniously out of Dinosaur Jr; he and cofounder Eric Gaffney did everything they could to guarantee that, designing their erratic, sloppy, noisy performances as endurance tests for audiences. But Barlow’s folky sense of melody and his brilliance with a bitter phrase began to suck more and more people in. When in 1993 an increasingly unreliable Gaffney left the fold, which by then also included Jason Loewenstein, Sebadoh abandoned its relentless self-sabotage campaign and decided to cash in on its accidental popularity; with Bob Fay as the new permanent drummer it became a real band. The shift actually started with 1992’s Bubble & Scrape, the first record on which the band seemed willing to self-edit. On Bakesale (1994) and the new Harmacy (all three albums were released on Sub Pop) Sebadoh’s gotten progressively straighter. While a few misshapen hard-rock nuggets dot the new record, for the most part it’s studded with elegant, catchy gems–“Willing to Wait” even features some tear-jerking strings. But some things never change: though Barlow recently married his longtime girlfriend, Harmacy continues the pattern of examining unsuccessful relationships with a numbing obsessiveness. Sometimes you wish these guys would sing about ice hockey or something. Saturday, 7 PM, the Vic, 3145 N. Sheffield; 472-0449 or 559-1212.


Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo by James Crump-RSP.