On Monday, Feb. 26, and exactly on time, the members of Superchunk took the stage at Portland’s Mississippi Studios, said a quick “heyhowyadoin” and got straight to work. What followed was a scalding 90-minute (give or take) 20-song run through the band’s 12-album history that was equal parts punk rock fury and angular, aggressive joy.
The band played with an energy and intensity that easily bests groups half their age and reminds fans that punk rock ain’t dead — it’s just been laying low.
While most veteran bands pepper new material into their set hoping fans won’t get bored and wander off, Superchunk leaned heavily on tunes from their latest release What a Time to be Alive, with three of the first four songs coming from the new record.
By the time singer Mac McCaughan got to the line, “The scum, the shame, the fucking lies, oh what a time to be alive,” and the sold-out crowd howled it right back at him, it was clear that the new stuff (only out one week) had already landed on satisfied ears. This is easily Superchunk’s most political record, and songs like the title track, “Break the Glass” and “Reagan Youth” gave the crowd a much-needed release for some very real pent-up frustration.
Near the end of the show, drenched in sweat while careening through sing-along “hits” like “Throwing Things,” “Slack Motherfucker” and “Digging for Something,” McCaughan paused briefly to remind the crowd of the thing that had become apparent throughout this glorious night: Even if it doesn’t seem like it, community is absolutely possible (just look around) and when things are really lousy (just look around) be sure to find that community. You’re gonna need it. Punk rock can save your life, too. — Mike Sheahan