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Superchunk

Superchunk: live in Chicagolive in Chicago (2010)
live show

Reviewer Rating: 2.5


Contributed by: jimmygordjimmygord
(others by this writer | submit your own)

I saw Superchunk last night. They played at the Metro in Chicago. Superchunk is touring to back a new album called Majesty Shredding. I think Superchunk has done a few shows here or there over the years, but the last time I saw them was at the Metro in like 2003 or something. I was with my homepiece.


I saw Superchunk last night. They played at the Metro in Chicago. Superchunk is touring to back a new album called Majesty Shredding. I think Superchunk has done a few shows here or there over the years, but the last time I saw them was at the Metro in like 2003 or something. I was with my homepiece and we were pretty thoroughly disappointed at the time. I remember at that show they had some woman playing keyboards in there. Superchunk was always a classic four-piece with a normal lead guitar/rhythm guitar setup. Adding keys really messed up the whole formula. Speaking of formula, the original knock on Superchunk was that all their songs sound the same. I didn't agree with that at the time, and I still don't. What I will admit is that their sound became formulaic. At the show in 2003, they were playing a lot of slow, lilt-y synthy stuff. It was getting old; somebody from the balcony shouted "PLAY SOMETHING THAT ROCKS!!!", and it summed up everyone's feelings at the time. After that show, I think I vowed never to see Superchunk again.

Mac McCaughan is the founder, leader, songwriter and owner of Superchunk; I don't think many decisions are made in the band without his input, and I would hazard to guess that he probably isn't open to points of view that differ from his own. It's this stubbornness that led to the success of Superchunk, and the label that Mac founded (Merge). When it comes to pleasing an audience, however, you kind of have to check your ego at the door. I don't think Mac understands this concept. I really believe that Mac thinks he knows what's best for the audience better than they do. It's very damaging thinking if you want to be a popular musician, and it's this stubborn attitude and the subsequent force-feeding of substandard songs that makes Superchunk so disappointing.

Last night, though, I have to admit that Superchunk did rock. They lost the keyboardist and stuck to what they do best. But they also came with a substandard set list. They went heavy off of the new album, which is to be expected, but they did not sprinkle crowd-pleasers in between. They played a lot of obscure stuff out of their catalog; sometimes that is good, but not so much with Superchunk.

Getting back to their formulaic sound, all bands have a dynamic; it's rare that a band makes a record and then comes out with a new record that sounds completely different. Evolving, writing, expressing--that's part of the creative process. When I say formula, I'm saying that the creative process becomes, "Let's make a Superchunk song! We'll take a little of this, a little of that, it will have a beat like 'Hyper Enough,' it will have a lead like 'Silver Leaves and Snowy Tears' [would've loved to have heard that last night as it would have been great for the start of winter] and we put it into the soundboard, tweak it around and VOILA! A new Superchunk song." They played a song last night that sounded just like that, a hodgepodge of old songs slapped together.

Safe to say, the show was very disappointing; every time they kicked into a new song, it was something I didn't know. I'm guessing a lot of people were feeling the same thing. Then when they did bring the good, like when they played "Throwing Things," or "Slack Motherfucker," everyone went nuts, and even the band seemed more enthused about the old songs than the newer/more obscure stuff. If they aren't going to listen and feed off of what the crowd is telling them, they should at least listen to their own hearts.

Prior to the show we were all throwing out songs we would like to hear: "Water Wings," "Cast Iron," "Skip Steps 1 & 3," "Seed Toss," "Why Do You Have to Put a Date on Everything," "Package Thief," "Swallow That," "Slow," "Brand New Love" and others. They did not play one of those songs. For some reason, the band seems to think that the two songs that they have to play at every show are "Hyper Enough" and "Precision Auto." I don't think these songs are that great, and I would be surprised if anyone in the crowd listed these two songs as their two favorite Superchunk songs, yet every show, year in/year out, keyboard, no keyboard, they play these songs. WTF? Retire that shit already. Play "Eastern Terminal" or anything else.

The new songs were pretty solid, though, and other standouts included "Throwing Things," "Driveway to Driveway" (although a pretty half-hearted version at that) and "Punch Me Harder." I had a good time with good friends, but it was a much different experience than the recent Matt Skiba show: At the Skiba show, he just got up there with a guitar and played every song that the people wanted to hear. Everyone in the place was singing along. I would love to be able to transport Superchunk to that show and tell them "It's this easy. If you want to play a good show, play what the people want to hear."

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
Sweetsuperior (December 10, 2010)

This is a super punk review. You sir, are super punk. Also, a moron.

rnrjc (December 10, 2010)

Seriously.. what the fuck?
There's one "obscure" song on that list.. (NRG cover..)
I can't believe they played Song For Marion Brown..a goddamn gem
dude..next time, don't go.. and if you do, don't distract your "good friends" from a great set.
..
btw, i saw them last night.. best show i've seen in at least a decade..

monostereo (December 10, 2010)

I'm sure the reviewer thought the Naked Raygun song was one of the Superchunk back catalog tunes nobody wanted to hear. Nice to see Superchunk are doing city-specific covers: thet broke out Something I Learned Today from Husker Du in Minneapolis.

MonkDave (December 10, 2010)

This writing is terrible. This person cannot write. He should not be reviewer. Piece sounds like ten year old boy writing a "what I did over the summer" essay in school. Superchunk is good. New album is great. This person is an moran.

Misanthropee (December 9, 2010)

Oh, and no mention of the Naked Raygun cover? What the fucking fuck? I call shenanigans and demand to see proof that the reviewer actually attended.

Misanthropee (December 9, 2010)

I'm looking at the setlist now and it's fucking great, assuming you like Superchunk that is. Sorry they're not your personal jukebox. They happen to dramatically vary sets from show to show, a very cool thing in my opinion considering how big their catalog is, so not everybody can get everything they want. I'd much rather be surprised by songs I'm not familiar with than be patronized with a half-hearted avalanche of "hits," anyway.

Methinks you spent a little too much time "having good fun with good friends" and not paying attention to the band onstage. Because most of this review is unrelated negative ruminating; I get zero impression of what the show itself was like from this review, other than a list of songs they did and didn't play, which I could have just gotten from setlist.fm in five seconds. Wack.

bud_boomer (December 9, 2010)

you munch.

sk8drum90 (December 9, 2010)

Man, I had a blast at this show! Granted, it was the first time i've ever seen Superchunk, and I am a youngin (19) :/ but I had a real good time. Opening with Learned To Surf fucking rocked. Have you heard this song dude? It's killer! And no, it doesn't sound like just a mash-up of other already existing songs like Hyper Enough and what ever else. Also, do you think a band like Superchunk who have been touring for 20 years want to play the same shit you and all your friends want to hear every night? Songs get real boring to play after a while. i'm sure they've played Iron On literally hundreds of times. I loved the obscure songs they played, and the new ones were great too! Get the stick outta yr ass. At least appreciate their stage presence. Laura and Mac pogo'd pretty hard. I'd give this show 5 stars for sure.

VeryEmergency (December 9, 2010)

You sound like a jerk. Oh yeah, Mac tweeted your review. You're a celebrity. Congratulations.

TheUltraHumanite (December 8, 2010)

Mac tweeted a link to this with "guy who should have kept his vow to never see us again." Haha.

MN_DrNick (December 8, 2010)

Terrible review...

outbreak (December 8, 2010)

How do you own a band?

MichaelConway (December 8, 2010)

While I value the fact that everyone is entitled to their opinion, if you say "I don‚??t think these songs are that great" about Hyper Enough and Precision Auto, I don't think you are going to find too many people who are going to take your review seriously. Not to mention, if you haven't checked out the new album, it slays and is probably the best recorded output this band has done since Here's Where the Strings Come In. Buy it, download it (legally, obviously), or borrow it....because if you familarize yourself with it, you'll be more likely to write a review people will not immediately try to rip apart.

drunkwithpower (December 8, 2010)

The writing is not spectacular, but I'm happy to see a middling live review on here instead of a five-star jerk-off. I gave a show a bad review under my old name and everyone ripped me to shreds, but I was fine with it becasue the show sucked.

I've seen Superchunk a number of times and they CAN be awesome, but when they play stuff they're not that enthusiastic about or the audience doesn't know it's a total snooze-fest. They're a veteran band, they should know better than to bring a boring show.

monostereo (December 8, 2010)

Whoops: Should have said, they opened up with Silver Leaf and Snowy Tears and didn't play Hyper Enough or PRECISION AUTO in Minneap.

monostereo (December 8, 2010)

Wow, this is a terrible, ignorant sounding review. It sounds like you have a very limited familiarity with the Superchunk catalog. For the record, in Minneapolis, the night before, they opened up with Silver Leaf and Snow Tears and didn't play Hyper Enough or Package Thief, so that is pretty much counter to your points about songs the band feels they always have to play. I certainly appreciate your opinion, and the only reason I am not taking true offense is because you said the Matt Skiba show was "like so totally awesome." I see where you're coming from. You're just not into the bands that originated the sound, you are into the bands that aped it ten years later.

timorous_me (December 8, 2010)

That setlist looks great.

d_boons_ghost (December 8, 2010)

First of all, your writing sucks. Stop using so many semi-colons and dropping the name "Superchunk" every other sentence. It's not like we forgot what band we're reading about. Second, you're wrong.

niveK82 (December 8, 2010)

I was there, it was awesome.

scrumples (December 8, 2010)

What the hell? That's a perfectly fine setlist. I think you're breathing in too much of the fumes from your entitled fanboy stink.

kiiks (December 8, 2010)

The show in Tampa was killer. The setlist was great. Like Jer-Bear over there, I wished they played Iron On, though.

jeremys (December 8, 2010)

they've been playing pretty varied set lists at every show it seems
I caught them in Tampa and thought it was awesome (Titus Andronicus opening up helped that)
here was their set list from that night, my only complaint was the didn't play "Iron On" - http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/superchunk/2010/czar-ybor-tampa-fl- 73d2a29d.html

TheUltraHumanite (December 8, 2010)

They create setlists ahead of the tour and practice them. They don't play together so often so not every song is at their disposal when it's requested. And personally I think it's pretty cool that they play some more obscure songs. Just because you choose not to familiarize yourself with their catalog does not mean it was a bad show. And from the looks of that setlist, they did indeed play "the hits" you were referring to. Assblood.

Skibz777 (December 8, 2010)

This was the setlist:
http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/superchunk/2010/metro-chi cago-il-63d2a66b.html

Personally, I would have loved to see that show, mostly because I'm a big fan of Superchunk's later work ('Indoor Living' is my personal favorite of theirs. Is that weird?), though I can understand why a lot of folks would be peeved at that set. To each their own, I guess.

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