Shudder to Think
Park West; Fri 5
In the mid-’90s, Dischord Records’ most promising and beguiling act was on track to follow in Nirvana’s slipstream. Shudder to Think had toured with Smashing Pumpkins and, in its journey from D.C. vampire punk to full-on quirky glam exploiters, the band had moved to New York and made a big-budget major-label album: Pony Express Record for Epic in 1994. Its provocative singles “Hit Liquor” and “X-French Tee Shirt” were mixed with the gold touch of Nevermind’s Andy Wallace, no less. But somehow, Shudder missed the world-domination phase of its career.
Its second, more conventional Epic record, 1997’s 50,000 B.C., vanished in a puff of disinterest. But like most of the band’s entire catalog, tunes off B.C., such as “The Saddest Day of My Life,” have aged well. A decade later, both the early art-punk and later grand STT material is ripe for rediscovery. The quartet’s constant allure was an off-kilter potion of operatic vocal acid trips and androgynously sexy guitar on songs such as “Red House,” a classic that STT recorded and released twice. Individually, the band’s principals, Craig Wedren and guitarist Nathan Larson, have done very nicely in film composition—after the band worked on the First Love, Last Rights; High Art; and Velvet Goldmine soundtracks.
Shudder briefly reunited to knock out some favorites during a Wedren solo show last fall in NYC and for an Obama benefit, which sowed the seed for this reunion tour. Original bassist Stuart Hill quietly relocated to South Carolina and won’t be along for the ride. Ex-drummer Adam Wade joins the band on some West Coast dates, but his replacement, Kevin March (the Dambuilders, Guided by Voices), plays here. This is one reunion that’s truly more about love than money, but we would take it either way.