Friday, Sept. 21, 2012
Better than: A Folsom Street Fair hangover.
In a perfect world, all our angry, drug-abusing heroes of punk rock history would age into Bob Mould. Can you imagine? If Sid Vicious had, instead of dying at 22, grown into someone you kinda wished were your uncle, because he seemed like he'd be great at barbecues? Instead, what we have is in that category is just Mould, doing his thing. But as he proved on Friday night at the Fillmore, just Mould doing his thing is nothing to shake a stick at.
"How you doing, San Francisco? Did you guys see the space shuttle today? It's kind of the little big things that count, right?" the bespectacled 51-year-old rocker asked an adoring, packed house, seemingly taking a breath for the first time all night.
That was a sweat-soaked 45 minutes into the show, after he, drummer Jon Wurster, and bassist Jason Narducy had charged through the entirety of Sugar's Copper Blue with such physical prowess and obvious joy that it was almost difficult to recall that Mould had been playing these songs -- these bright, triumphant tracks from his poppiest album -- for the past 20 years.
Of course, even if Mould had phoned them in, certain moments would have elicited yelps of nostalgic bliss from this mostly forty- and fifty-something crowd, which included both A) the most polite and welcoming and iPhone-less group of people we've ever interacted with directly in front of the stage at a major venue, and B) a notable abundance of older balding men with gray beards, wearing plaid shirts much like Mould's, creating a sort of Where's Waldo-effect, if Waldo ever spent time in San Francisco's middle-aged bear scene.
Regardless: there was no phoning into be had. Mould kicked and wailed through singles like "Changes" and "If I Can't Change Your Mind" with contagious energy; and he poured himself into "Hoover Dam," with its soaring chorus, like it was the first time he'd ever sung it. We're probably not old enough to say "They don't make alt-rock like this anymore," which is to say, simultaneously hook-y and hard-driving and neither overproduced nor whiny -- but whatever, we're saying it. Mould's guitar work was powerful as ever, which was important, because Wurster's Muppetlike tendencies on the drums are a (mostly excellent) force to be reckoned with; at points you couldn't quite tell which musician was trying to keep up with the other.