A friend asked me before the show what kind of music Sebadoh was, and I had to say, “indie rock. They are like the definition of indie rock.” And they are, for me. Sebadoh and Pavement are basically the two bands I still think of when I hear the term.
But I am showing my age. I still think of indie rock in terms of the ’90s, but the ’90s have been over for seven years. Today I don’t know what indie rock is supposed to sound like. But I am starting to realize that I’m not really that interested in “indie rock” in its 2007 manifestation. It’s kind of sad.
The wikipedia article on indie rock is amusing (all the wikipedia articles on musical subgenres are pretty entertaining). They list a bunch of indie-rock trends that are going on right now, and I think it’s pretty accurate, and I think most of these trends kinda suck. I liked the indie rock of Pavement and all the rest, but nowadays… There are still good bands coming along, but the general style of all of them leaves me pretty unimpressed. Let’s see, Wikipedia lists “baroque pop” (which I think is so-so), “new prog” (yuck), “New Weird America or Freak Folk” (doesn’t do it for me), “psych-folk” (I don’t even know what this is), “disco-punk” (not terrible but not exciting either), “garage rock revival” (the best of these so far), “twee pop” (which I like but in moderation), “musical collectives” (fine on occasion but annoying as a trend), and the “post-punk revival movement” (this is also not bad but has a current of lameness to it somehow).
None of these trends sound much like the indie rock that I like, and I’m not sure where the ’90s Matador roster would fit today. I mean, that’s fine, things change, and besides, the last new band I saw that sounded like ’90s indie rock was Soccer Team, and they were all right, but I felt like, “well, I have seen a million bands like this before.” So I don’t want to have the same sound come back, I just find it hard to believe that kids today can feel the same way about the likes of Sufjan Stevens or Bloc Party as I once did about Pavement tapes.
Anyway my point here is that Sebadoh still remain the perfect example of indie rock to me, but they have nothing much to do with indie rock today, they’re more like lumbering dinosaurs from a vanished era. I wasn’t even particularly planning on going to see them, but I am glad I did. The reviews were not that great, and the club was notably empty, but I totally enjoyed it. It was nostalgia for a crazy time of life, not so long ago, when I listened to mix tapes instead of mp3s, and left awkward messages on answering machines instead of voice-mail, and started trying to figure out life as a (young) adult. I still haven’t figured it out, but seeing Sebadoh was like a chance to remember the beginning of the journey and appreciate the beauty of the ride.
And I’ll keep waiting for the “’90s indie revival” to come along, and then Sebadoh can reunite again and play arenas. I’ll probably be annoyed by that trend too…
Here’s a video of them playing “Mind Reader” at a different stop on the tour (Milwaukee actually). Sound is messed up but I like the Hüsker Dü shirt.