The dB's at Hideout | Photos and review
The dBs occupy a rare and storied space: With members who have counted time playing with Alex Chilton, Television’s Richard Lloyd, R.E.M. and their own individual production projects, the band acts as a sort of living bond between post-punk’s growing pains at the turn of the ‘80s and the rise of college rock in the decade that followed. But that would be selling them too short: Their early run of albums effectively refashioned power-pop for the post-punk age, redefining what pop songwriting could accomplish for a generation raised on CBGBs. And though the assembly of fans packed tightly underneath the Hideout beerlight to see the reunited original lineup of the band certainly skewed older, the band’s classic energy and attitude remained intact.
Last night’s set at the Hideout, which marks the first local reunion of the original lineup of Chris Stamey, Peter Holsapple, Will Rigby and Gene Holder since 2005, comes on the back of the band’s first album of new material in 25 years (30 since the original lineup), in last June’s Falling Off The Sky. The album begins, as did their set, with a call to the present in “That Time Is Gone,” a song that pivots away from the band’s revered past by choosing to refocus their attention and energy to living in the moment. And though the band’s two-night residency at the Hideout this week is largely in celebration of and in reverence to the band’s past, there no doubt that, given the more inspired moments from last night, there’s still a good amount of energy to be had.
Thursday night had an inspired start thanks to local openers Outside World, a three piece guitar-bass-drums ensemble featuring dBs drummer Will Rigby’s daughter, Hazel, on bass and vocals. The band clocked in a set of smart post-punk fitting comfortably between Dinosaur Jr.’s low-end stomp and the Feelies jangle, noticeably hitting a sweet spot with the evening’s dBs fans. They join the dBs again to open the band’s Friday night set before heading down to St. Louis.
Amid many cheers and smiles from the crowd, the dBs took to the stage shortly after 9:30, pulling liberally from their their early/mid-80s heyday. The band took set list cues from online song requests from fans in the weeks leading up to the show, trekking through classics like “Ask For Jill,” “Happenstance” (which was requested a second time by an unfortunate latecomer) and “Amplifier” alongside cuts from Sky. On display throughout was the exciting (and mostly tension-less) duel of creative energies between Holsapple’s new-wavey power-pop songwriting and Stamey’s more Chilton-esque sneer, with each guitarist happy to offer a fair amount of lead heroics by way of Tom Verlaine or Robert Quine. The rhythm section of Rigby and Holder, as always, maintained the strong backbone of the band, providing the angular framework to which Stamey’s and Holsapples sugary melodies could take hold.
All told, the dBs turned in a tightly wound set of time-tested crowd-pleasers and fine-enough new tracks, proving the timeless worth of their Southern take on Anglophilic pop. Newly reunited and re-energized, and with a crowd happy to bask in the glow of the reunited band, it becomes clear the band’s decision to take inspiration from the moment—especially when the moment includes a thoughtful look backwards—was a smart one. And nothing, as they say, is wrong.