With a scream of “Gimmie Indie Rock,” Lou Barlow opened Sebadoh’s Troubadour appearance declaring allegiance to the genre he helped define. But with alternative rock diminishing in importance, the Los Angeles-by-way-of-Boston trio has recently seemed to have outlived its moment; it’s currently touring while shopping for a deal.
Yet it was an invigorated Sebadoh that stepped onto the Troubadour stage Friday.
Deftly mixing new material with songs from older SubPop discs “Harmacy” and “Cakesale,” the group performed with a focus and commitment that was lacking in last year’s petulant Troubadour show and a phoned-in set opening for the Flaming Lips.
As opposed to the usual practice by Barlow and Jason Lowenstein — the band’s other chief songwriter — of trading songs back and forth (which often gave way to long periods of tuning and uncomfortable silences), Friday’s show was assembled in blocks of a few Barlow songs followed by a few of Lowenstein’s.
While this sacrificed the conversational, push-me-pull-you brinkmanship that gave Sebadoh performances their emotional charge, in it’s place was a newfound consistency and momentum, turning the disparity between Barlow’s laconic dejection and Lowenstein’s punkier aggression into more of a debate than an argument.
But an hour into the show, the members of Sebadoh remembered who they were and with a curt “That’s it,” Barlow stopped and abruptly walked off stage, surprising even his fellow band members. Not even two impressive encores, including a passionate cover of Nick Drake’s “Pink Moon,” could regain the evening’s earlier momentum.