Poster by DayKamp Creative
Do you ever realize that you've been listening to a band forever but have never seen them live? Superchunk were one for me. I've been listening to them since the 90's but just had never gotten around to seeing them live. No real reason, I just hadn't. Of course, once I made that realization it just never worked out for me. I'd already have plans, I'd be out of town when they'd come around, etc. Finally on Monday night the universe aligned and I got to see them play at the Paradise with another favorite: TORRES!
There are times when I realize just how out of whack my knowledge of the popularity of bands is. There are bands I've never heard of with hundreds of social media followers and others that I'm convinced are megastars but end up only with hundreds of followers. To me, TORRES is a huge band. I didn't expect the audience to be half Superchunk fans and half TORRES fans, but I expected maybe a 75/25 split. Instead when TORRES took the stage at exactly 8 o'clock there were maybe a few dozen people in attendance, and they came out to literally zero applause. (I was reading on my phone and missed that they were on stage until the house music stopped and they started playing.) Mackenzie Scott and her band definitely had an uphill battle.
And... they nailed it. TORRES played an energetic set that sucked in Superchunk fans as they filed in for the night. As the audience built, so did the applause between songs. While there were a handful of people at least partially there for TORRES, their fanbase increased with each song. This was definitely not hurt by the set closing four song run of "Hug From a Dinosaur," "Thirstier," "Sprinter," and "Helen in the Woods," which might have been one of the best four song runs I've seen in ages. The only complaint for the set is that Scott's vocals were quite muddied at times, and she's an artist you truly want to be able to hear. (Sound issues were an issue all night as Superchunk guitarist Jim Wilbur asked to have his monitor turned off completely due to sound issues.)
I don't know if I could have picked a better first Superchunk show than this one. Their most recent album (2022's Wild Loneliness) is a much more mellow album than we're used to from the indie rock legends, and I expected their show to reflect that sound. Even though they played five songs off Wild Loneliness, the band skipped the ballads (or hyped them up) and focused on just rocking out. For a band that's been around for over thirty years, they put most younger bands to shame with Mac McCaughan jumping around the stage with seeming reckless abandon, Jason Narducy almost constantly pacing around, and Jon Wurster pounding his drums wildly almost non-stop. They were playing so fast and heavy that I didn't even recognize a cover of Sebadoh's "Brand New Love" to start off the encore. McCaughan led the crowd in sing-a-long of "Digging for Something"'s "Whoah Oh Oh" chorus, but didn't need to encourage one for the next song, "Slack Motherfucker," which is just more fun to yell with a crowd of people. (Also, how crazy is it that a killer song like "Digging for Something" came along twenty years into their career?) They closed the night with "Fishing" and had Mackenzie Scott join them on guitar for the song. You've never seen anyone play guitar as joyfully as Scott did Monday night.