“So how do you know about this band we’re about to see?” That’s what our new, young friend asked my fellow CoolDad and me just before Bob Mould took the stage at Bowery Ballroom with his band.
“How do we know about Bob Mould???” my friend asked. “We’re old.”
I then went into my hyperbolic spiel about how Bob Mould, living legend, invented alternative rock with Hüsker Dü, then showed everyone how it was supposed to be done with Sugar.
“Oh, well I’d better pay attention then.” I felt like, maybe, he was patronizing me. I probably deserved it.
Bear in Heaven opened the show at the stroke of 9. Their psych-kraut-dance rock isn’t usually my thing, but they did a great — and loud — live set, the bass almost knocking my glasses from my nose. Frontman Jon Philpot gave it everything he had, and I commented to my companion that Bear in Heaven had just about converted me by the time they finished.
Bob Mould took the stage with Jon Wurster on drums and Jason Narducy on bass. The power trio blazed through the first five tracks off of Mould’s power-pop masterpiece, Copper Blue, in order. Following “Hoover Dam,” the band switched gears to play a few tracks from what Mould referred to as his “most fun record in years,” 2012’s Silver Age. Singles “Star Machine” and “The Descent” generated as much enthusiasm among the crowd as the Sugar songs.
From the audience, it was obvious that this wasn’t simply a group of veteran rockers going through the motions. Mould, Wurster, and Narducy laughed with each other throughout the show; and Wurster could be seen singing along to songs like “I Apologize” and “Makes No Sense At All” from behind the kit.
When it was time for the encore, Bob Mould broke out some deep Hüsker Dü cuts like “Flip Your Wig” and “Hate Paper Doll.” I have it on very good authority that those are songs that, save for a single rehearsal prior to last night’s show, Bob Mould has not played live in 25 years. And it was obvious that, after the first song or two of the six-song encore, everything was an audible. Wurster and Narducy jumped in once Mould started bashing out the first few chords of whatever was coming next.
After a farewell to rock LP called The Last Dog and Pony Show and forays into other genres like electronica, Bob Mould is back to rocking; and he appears to be enjoying it immensely. His happiness last night was contagious and lifted the entire audience, even those, I’m sure, who weren’t quite sure who they’d come to see.
Popular acts like Japandroids and Cloud Nothings should keep an eye on Bob Mould. He’s still showing everyone how it’s done.
You’ve got another chance to catch Bob Mould at Bowery Ballroom tonight before he and the band take their act to Australia.