Though they’ve more or less been back in action for over a decade, despite juggling other projects like frontman Lou Barlow’s Dinosaur Jr., long-running lo-fi indie rock faves Sebadoh took their time crafting a followup to 2013’s excellent comeback LP Defend Yourself (their first record since ’99), returning earlier this year with perhaps their finest album in decades, Act Surprised. Out on the road in support, the group will play Nashville for the first time in five years tonight, July 18 at Exit/In with Eleanor Friedberger, and tickets are still available right here! Snag ’em while they last and read on for more about the show.
Despite a few lineup shuffles and occasional periods of dormancy, Massachusetts formed rockers Sebadoh have remained a pillar of the indie rock scene for more than 30 years, and helped pioneer the lo-fi sound, along with peers like Guided By Voices and Pavement, that would heavily influence a wave of bands in the early ’90s. Originally intended as an experimental offshoot and additional songwriting vehicle from Lou Barlow’s main gig, Dinosaur Jr., Sebadoh became the singer-songwriter’s main focus after being booted from the band in ’89 (only to rejoin in 2005), teaming up with Jason Loewenstein and Eric Gaffney (who’s been on and off over the years, with the trio currently filled out by Bob D’Amico), with Gaffney contributing to much of the band’s early writing (he would depart in the ’90s, with Barlow becoming Sebadoh’s de-facto frontman and driving creative force). Though their earlier records took a more acoustic bent, with even some folk elements, Sebadoh’s sound evolved to better much their electrifying live show, incorporating elements of electric indie and lo-fi rock, as well as tinges of post-hardcore and noise rock. After several years of resounding underground acclaim, 1994’s Bakesale, their fifth LP and most accessible to date, proved to be their commercial breakout, finding increased success over the next few years, and a major label deal ahead of 1999 seventh album, The Sebadoh. Like many indie bands in the ’90s, however, their turn to a more slick, elaborately produced major label attempt proved incredibly divisive with fans, with the group opting to go on hiatus that same year. Solo and side projects and occasional stripped-down shows would follow, with the “classic trio” retuning in 2007 to tour in celebration of reissues of their early work. Despite returning to Dinosaur Jr. as well, Barlow has managed to keep Sebadoh active over the last decade, returning in 2013 with their first full-length in 14 years, Defend Yourself, marking a great, personal turn to their mid-’90s indie sound. Though they’ve continued to tour intermittently, Sebadoh only recently found time to produce a follow up, this year’s Act Surprised, landing as perhaps their best record in over 20 years, taking more creative and sonic risks and landing as a fitting, mature, and contemporary turn for the legendary, road-worn, influential outfit. Long renowned for their live show, there hasn’t been a better time to see Sebadoh in ages!
Initially rising to acclaim in the ’00s in New York indie duo The Fiery Furnaces with her brother Matthew Friedberger, which, at one point, featured Sebadoh’s Jason Loewenstein and Bob D’Amico, Eleanor Friedberger turned to a solo career after the group’s 2011 hiatus, releasing her debut album, Last Summer, that same year. Over two more excellent efforts, 2013’s Personal Record and 2016’s New View, Friedberger managed to hone an excellent, personal, and accessible style of poppy indie rock, not dissimilar from her former band, bust still distinctly her own, all the while touring the word and forging a devoted fanbase. Ahead of her newest and fourth album, last year’s Rebound, Eleanor spent some time in Greece, immersing herself in the culture and reflecting on the current global political and societal landscape, ultimately finding creative inspiration at a late night ’80s goth disco, and taking an incredibly self-sufficient, synth-fueled turn on her most inspired batch of songs yet. She’s an excellent, contemporary compliment to Sebadoh and very good reason to show up early!
Sebadoh and Eleanor Friedberger will perform tonight, July 18 at Exit/In. The show is 18+, begins at 8 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available to purchase for $25.