Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Bob Mould at the Bowery Ballroom

Guitarist, vocalist and songwriter Bob Mould was born in 1960 in Malone, New York, but attended college in St. Paul, Minnesota, where he formed Hüsker Dü in 1979. Hüsker Dü was a leading first-wave punk power trio, but broke up acrimoniously in 1988 over members' drug abuse, disputes over songwriting credits and musical direction, and the suicide of the band's manager. Mould launched a solo career in 1989,then formed the loud pop trio Sugar in 1992, releasing two albums before breaking up in 1995, and finally returned to solo projects in 1996. Relocating to New York City in the late 1990s, he took a detour into dance music and electronica, worked as a live dance club disc jockey, appeared in Bear Nation, a movie about gay culture, in 2010, and published his memoirs, See a Little Light: The Trail of Rage and Melody, in 2011. Mould's most recent solo album, Beauty & Ruin, was released on June 3, 2014.

The phrase "hüsker dü" in Danish means "do you remember?" Headlining the first of two nights at the Bowery Ballroom, Mould helped his audience remember much of his musical legacy. Leading yet another trio with bassist Jason Narducy and drummer Jon Wurster (of Superchunk), Mould opened his 23-song set with two nitro-powered Hüsker Dü songs, "Flip Your Wig" and "Hate Paper Doll" and a Sugar song, "Changes." Balding and white-bearded, and wearing black horn-rimmed glasses and a wrinkled button-down shirt, Mould did not look like an indie star, but the 53-year-old did not succumb to tame daddy-rock. He made smart use of his 1987 Lake Placid Blue Fender Stratocaster, ripping into wall-of-noise guitar licks as he darted across the stage, bounced in place and worked up a sweat throughout the set. Mould began his tour of solo songs with "Star Machine" and "The Descent" from the 2012 Silver Age album before introducing "I Don't Know You Anymore" from his current album. Mould overlooked his electronica-dance epoch so that his set consistently rocked hard and loud, with well-crafted melodies and hooks powered by sonic savagery. Finally, after more Hüsker Dü, Sugar and solo songs, Ryan Adams helped end the evening by joining Mould's band as a rhythm guitarist on a four-song encore of Hüsker Dü songs. Mould sang well, smiled a lot and seemed to enjoy himself and much as the audience enjoyed him.

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