Thursday, February 9, 2012

Bob Mould at City Winery in Manhattan

New York, New York - 2/9/12

I must admit that when I heard about the legendary Bob Mould coming to my favorite intimate New York City music venue, City Winery, I was really excited. I was not as familiar with his work as any fan of alternative rock probably should be; I had heard some songs from Husker Du and I actually had one track from Sugar on a CD compilation some time back. But I was not as familiar as I should be with his whole body of work. Regardless, City Winery is one of my favorite spots to see live music and this Mould show did have an excited energy about it.

As my wife and I approached the Varick Street venue in the still February cold, the insides of City Winery looked packed. Usually this place gets pretty full but a full half hour before the show the place was buzzing so we did our part and got to our seats quickly.

Obviously Bob Mould solo is not Bob Mould with Husker Du, Sugar, his backing solo band or even any of the work he’s done with any other artists (like his work with the Foo Fighters). But I was surprised when the projection screen in front of the stage was lifted and the stage was bare save a microphone stand.

Mould entered from stage right in a pair of worn blue jeans and a black short-sleeved t-shirt. He had a guitar around his neck, a piece of paper with his set list, and three bottles of water. A lot of the fans in the audience were a tad on the older side. This would make sense since Mould began his musical career in the late 1970’s. But these fans went nuts when the singer took the stage. They all began clapping and engaging in a seated cavorting and pumping their fists in the air and thrashing their heads to and fro.

From the moment he began to sing over his wash of hard-charging guitar chords I was really able to hear the derivation of the angst-ridden modern rock which I grew up around in the early 1990’s. He stepped out on stage and the only thing he said was “I’m not going to talk; just going to play.” And he played. One song ran into the next ran into the next. His fading riff hadn’t even gone out before Mould had attacked the next song.

Mould was exercising the same angst in the 1970’s and 80’s. As I scanned the older gray haired gents in denim collared shirts who are head banging along with a song like “Your Favorite Thing” mouthing the words as they go; I was struck by an inescapable fact. Nothing about life gets any easier; not for this middle aged rocker on stage who still appears as anxious as if it were his first time before an audience, not for these apparently happily married guys who have their grown kids sitting across the table from them. Not for anyone.

The one lyric that I really walked away from on this evening was when Mould said “…Let’s see what the future brings; I wouldn’t mind; and I can’t tell you what’s been happening; I don’t know…Not at all.”

That’s it people. Your life is what you make of it; right here; right now. There is no tomorrow and yesterday’s already done.

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