There’s nothing quite like home field advantage. Fine, so the Cat’s Cradle is actually in Carrboro and not Superchunk’s hometown of Chapel Hill, but you could drunkenly walk from one to the other in a reasonable amount of time (which, admittedly, I may have done before). Either way, there’s a certain special energy that exists in a band’s homecoming and that was more than evident Saturday night.
Punk veteran Greg Cartwright’s group, The Parting Gifts, opened the night with some short, hard-hitting bluesy numbers. There was a vintage sound to these tunes, complete with tambourine from Lindsay Hames of The Ettes. “Strange Disposition” was the standout performance with its oscillating blues-rock drive and woeful sentiment. This was The Parting Gifts’ third night with Superchunk and the vibe was friendly as Hames talked about what an honor it was to play with Cartwright and described the ensuing face-melting that McCaughan and company were about to provide.
And faces were subsequently melted.
Superchunk led off with “FOH,” a song basically tailor-made for opening a concert with its uptempo pace and concert-specific lyrics. But since burning one of their new single-quality tracks right away wasn’t enough, they followed it up with “Me & You & Jackie Mittoo,” allowing the crowd the healthy release of being able to scream “I hate music!” And while the new record may be about the perils of growing older in the music industry, McCaughan still performs with the zeal of an 18 year-old. He jumps around the stage, he does slashing windmill strokes, and at times seems like he might burst a blood vessel when screeching out some of the lyrics. But he and his bandmates have been here before; they’ve got nearly everything locked down.
I say nearly everything because, alas, live music is still a risky proposition. McCaughan false started on the song “Void,” needing a re-tuning of his–dare I say Duke blue—guitar. But even this rough moment allowed for guitarist Jim Wilbur to tell a joke that, while corny, was more than welcome. And with risks come rewards. This was the first night they played “Low F,” a personal favorite from the new record, and did a commendable job with the premiere.
The 16-song set wasn’t enough to satiate the ravenous Carrboro crowd, so Superchunk actually performed two encores, complete with classics like “Precision Auto” and “Slack Motherfucker.” And let me tell you what, there’s nothing more fun than yelling “slack motherfucker” at the top of your lungs at a rock show. There simply isn’t.
Perhaps my favorite part of the night came when McCaughan told a story about friend of the band Laura King. In high school, King wanted to play a late-running show with her band. Her mother responded to the request by reminding King that it was a school night, to which King replied “fuck you, mom, we’re opening for Sebadoh tonight!” McCaughan encouraged everyone to open up once and a while and let out their teenage angst in such a way. So, if you can catch them on this tour, stay out late and tell whomever you want “fuck you, I’m seeing Superchunk tonight!”