The last time Sebadoh played Cincinnati was a February, 2014 free show at MOTR Pub, which easily hit its capacity and left a line of fans snaking around the corner in the cold. This time, there will be a little more room to move around as the Massachusetts trio brings their ongoing tour for 2013’s Defend Yourself to The Woodward Theater on Friday night. Their first LP since 1999’s The Sebadoh, the album is loaded with the same quirks that made them college rock heroes in the first place: driving guitars, earworm hooks, uncluttered arrangements, and goofball humor mixed in with introspective lyrics.
Sebadoh was formed by Lou Barlow in 1986. At the time, Barlow was best known as the bassist for noise rock gods Dinosaur Jr., but he was unceremoniously booted in 1989 following the Bug tour. (Barlow rejoined Dinosaur Jr. for the 2005 reunion tour, and has been a full-time member ever since.) That same year, Jason Loewenstein joined on with the Sebadoh project, which became Barlow’s primary creative outlet. For 25 years (with some breaks), the pair have shared vocal and songwriting duties, and switched off on bass and guitar. They released the stone-cold classic III in 1991, and haven’t looked back.
The band left a debris field of great songs strewn across the 1990s alt-rock landscape. They could roar--see Loewenstein explode into his howled refrain of “It’s like wasting everything/On someone else’s dreams” at the end of Bakesale’s “Dramamine.” They could hit you with catchy-as-hell fuzz-pop riffing--see “Rebound” and "Magnet's Coil" from the same 1994 masterpiece. And, as with late-album Harmacy highlight “Too Pure,” they could absolutely lay you flat with bare-vein lyricism: “I do it out of habit, not addiction/And if I give it up, clean out my blood/Will I still feel bored and disconnected?”
After a hiatus that stretched from 2000-2007 (during which Barlow focused on his Folk Implosion project), the Sebadoh train hit the road again. Rounded out by Fiery Furnaces drummer Bob D’Amico, the trio have spent most of the last decade mining their rich history and bringing it to new audiences. So take Barlow’s own advice, “follow what you feel,” give your weekend a kick start and make Sebadoh your Brand New Love.