THE VENERATED NORTH Carolina band provided a shot of adrenaline at last weekend’s heavy-psych finale to All Tomorrow’s Parties (to be reviewed in the final MOJO of 2014) with a characteristically hyperventilated set of heart-soaring, power-pop-punk nuggets, before a couple more UK dates, a quick Scandinavian hop then back to the US where they’ll be playing in January and February next year.
These days the Superchunk live experience no longer features bass player and founding member Laura Ballance, for whom serious hearing damage has made playing live impossible. But Laura remains a keystone member of the group and co-stars in the video for Void, the third track to be released from Superchunk’s tenth album, this year’s blissful inversion of its title, I Hate Music.
Void started life as a conceptual lick from Mac McCaughan, as the A-side of a 1000-only Record Store Day 7-inch Void/Faith, in tribute to Dischord bands Faith and Void’s legendary 1982 split LP Faith/Void and presumably now owned by just a handful of lucky punters and Thurston Moore (possibly). For the rest of us, Void is a cherished album track, a precious tidbit of melody and brio that now comes with this terrific video directed by Scott Jacobson...
Jacobson, incidentally, also directed this priceless promo for J Mascis and Sharon Van Etten’s reading of John Denver’s Prisoners, featuring some fake Muppets plus Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster and Aimee Mann in Denver wigs.
But not before you’ve got the most out of Void, in which comic actors Jon Benjamin, Jon Glaser and Ted Travelstead join Superchunk’s Jon, Laura and Jim as middle-aged gig goers at a club in Brooklyn. “The venue’s condemned, but only on weekdays,” Glaser assures Jon Wurster, who’s “invited Dan and Maggie from work”. Dan and Maggie (Laura and Jim from Superchunk) turn up, Jim in giant ear protectors, Laura unimpressed at his refusal to assimilate with the 20-something crowd. Wurster looks askance as a girl across the room mouths “old” at him for putting in ear plugs. While in the DJ booth Mac opines, “This place is OK. It’s like a punk rock Chuck E. Cheese.” (Be grateful, non-US-residents, that we may never fully understand that one).
“It’s exuberant, funny and just slightly tinged with melancholy.”
Various Brooklyn buzz bands including Ava Luna, Heliotropes and Weird Womb make cameos while Benjamin and Glaser remain on the stairwell (“We don’t go and see the openers, openers suck”) before donning Security t-shirts and pushing their way to the front for Superchunk. Travelstead, meanwhile, embarks on a nostalgic mosh-pit fantasy, to the obvious disgruntlement of the immaculate, painted-mouthed club regulars.
It’s exuberant, funny and just slightly tinged with melancholy for anyone who recognises that pan-generational dislocation between time and place, age and impulse. Cultures shift, audiences get younger… etc etc. but Superchunk remain a conduit to rock’s universal thrills.