"What's with all the shushing?" Dean Wareham asked the crowd at the Rock Shop who were there for the intimate, semi-secret warm-up show of his upcoming tour playing exclusively Galaxie 500 songs. "No one needs to be shushed!"
Galaxie 500 and their three dreamy LPs from the Reagan-Bush years have grown in acclaim over the last 20 years and some people in attendance watched this show with a hushed reverence you might expect for Nick Drake. (Hence the shushing.) Wareham, who was all smiles for this show, doesn't seem to hold his own material in such high regard. To wit: he intro'd "Decomposing Trees," from 1989's On Fire, as "This song is about the time I dropped acid and my toes started talking to me."
As Wareham and Galaxie 500's invaluable rhythm section (Damon Krukowski, Naomi Yang) don't really get along at all anymore, this is close to the real thing as we're gonna get these days. And it comes pretty close. Wareham is a much better guitarist these days and is still in possession of a fine falsetto. (If you ever thought it was fine, that is.) And much credit to drummer Jason Lawrence whose lithe touch came close to replicating Krukowski's style.
And the songs, of course. Today, On Fire and, to a lesser extent 1991's This is Our Music, probably hold up better than 90% of the music made from 1987 – 1991, an era of gated drums, cheesy synths and Sandborn-descended saxophone on everything. (The sax on "Decomposing Trees" was replaced tonight with melodica courtesy second guitarist Matt Sumrow.) I'm pretty sure they've just gotten better with age. So it was a thrill getting to hear "Strange," "Flowers," "4th of July," "Tugboat" and others again, not to mention essential covers "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste" (Jonathan Richman) and set-closing "Ceremony" (Joy Division/New Order).
Personally I could've used a few less of the band's many two-chord jams in favor of some of Today's poppier numbers like "Oblivious" and "Parking Lot" but looking at the setlist I'm not sure what I would've pulled in place of them. I guess I just wanted more.
SETLIST: Flowers | Pictures | Temperature Rising | Snowstorm | Decomposing Trees | Strange | Blue Thunder | Summertime | When Will You Come Home | Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste | 4th of July | Tugboat | Ceremony
There's video of "Strange" after the jump.
A few words about The Rock Shop, the new Park Slope/Gowanus venue that's been open a couple weeks now. It's a small room — holds a hundred people at best — probably most comparable to Pianos but with a nicer soundsystem. It's a bit of a bottleneck to get to the actual performance space, but once you're in there it's a really nice — and great sounding — room. And the upstairs deck is pretty killer. A welcome addition to the area.
Wareham does it again tonight at Bowery Ballroom, maybe with a slightly different setlist, plus Crystal Stilts opening. And the show's going on the road too, those dates after the jump.