Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Bumbershoot 2008: Superchunk is super loud, draw super crowd surfers

Like nearly everyone last night at Bumbershoot, I knew very little about rock group Superchunk. I'd heard the name, but never their music.

I unexpectedly found myself in the very front row for Death Cab for Cutie when I arrived at the VIP gate yesterday, just as the house doors opened. When I stepped foot on the carpeted lawn of Memorial Stadium I realized front row access was for the taking. This meant, however, that I'd have to brave 90 minutes of wait time for Superchunk, an hour-long set by Superchunk, and a half hour wait time for DCFC.

But, I've done weirder things in life so this was a piece of cake. Or so I thought.

I don't even know one Superchunk single or anything about them really, although the bulky guy next to me - the one fan I could find in my immediate area of this North Carolina band - helped fill in some blanks. Apparently, the drummer is a co-founder of Merge Records (Arcade Fire, Spoon) and has a radio talk show somewhere. Two members of the group used to date, and a lot of their songs are about them. That's what I dug out.

It was a loud performance, which riled concertgoers to start crowd surfing. They weren't familiar with the music or the artist, they just wanted to surf. And that they did - over and over and over and over again, a few almost knocking out my teeth. I'm not sure why Bumbershoot allows people to crowd surf, but then again - I have no business being in the front row, do I?

What was interesting to watch was Chris Walla of Death Cab for Cutie standing on the side of the stage shouting out the lyrics to every Superchunk number. He was really into it, shaking his head and moving his body like a slinky as he stood in place. And next to him was comedian David Cross, who I saw earlier that day at Flatstock with actress Amber Tamblyn. Cross was so fired up that the dude next to me said afterwards, "Did you see David Cross going apeshit over there?" Uh, yes I did. Apeshit he was.

I'm sure Superchunk is loved by many, and apparently by DCFC (Ben Gibbard gave them a shout out during their set), but I thought they were just noisy and I would've preferred a mellower opening act like Minus the Bear or Fleet Foxes.

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