I’m in San Francisco for three weeks (part of an eight week white-collar training boot camp) and when I lived here all those years ago one of the highlights for me was seeing a show at The Fillmore, easily one of the best concert venues in the country.
When I discovered Bob Mould was playing at the Fillmore, I decided to go.
Without a doubt it was the best $35 I have spent on a concert in years. To be fair, that is the ONLY $35 I have spent on any concert in recent years (it’s usually upwards of $100…if I go).
Now I am not a huge Husker Du fan. I am not a huge Sugar fan. I’m not a huge Bob Mould fan in general. I’ve always liked the bands and his solo stuff, but was never one of those college rock guys who worshiped at the altar of Husker Du and genuflected at the mention of his name.
Until last night.
Having forgone his dalliances in creative writing for wrestling (yep, that’s true) and a brief forray into DJ’ing and EDM, the 54 year old alternative rock veteran has returned to his power trio punk rock roots.
A little after 10pm, Bob Mould coolly walked onto the Fillmore stage and, with his bass player and drummer in tow, pummeled through a career covering set that gave no sign of his 54 years and in no way did it lean too much on his storied past. Barely pausing to say “Hello”, the show was relentless. And fucking brilliant.
Mould’s backing band certainly had no trouble keeping up with their leader, who was easily 20 years their senior. But it was clear who was in charge. So much so that as the bass player hiked his guitar over his head and the drummer stood to exit, Mould was not having it. I saw him shake his head two simple times and the guys quickly got back in line.
Bob Mould wasn’t done.
The crowd was filled with well-behaved middle-aged retired punk rock wannabe’s who had given up their pseudo punk ethos years ago. And while many of those present have moved into a different tax bracket, including Bob Mould, he reminded us that rebellion is more a spirit guide than representative of a tax bracket.
That became manifest when about halfway through the show, and with Mould not showing any sign of slowing down, a little mosh pit formed. Albeit the participants had a little more padding in the middle and it was way less aggro than it would have been 25-30 years ago.
For those that remember, true mosh pits were never about hurting anyone, they were always about community and release, and as you get older you lose sight of the importance of both. It’s nice to be reminded once and awhile, even if only briefly.
Besides, if you think it is easy to get a bunch of wealthy, self-important, middle-aged Gen X’ers to mosh then you haven’t been to a show of any of our recently re-formed musical gods like Soundgarden or The Replacements.
Nothing about this show was perfunctory. It wasn’t nostalgic. It wasn’t sad. The show was exciting, loaded with new songs and a rallying remembrance of our youthful rebellion…from a guy who is 54.
Music still has significant power when it’s coming from a real and honest place. Too much music today, regardless of genre, is vapid and comes from places that reside somewhere far far away from truth.
After seeing Bob Mould, I am gonna choose to believe that he is a harbinger of a new era in rock music, like he was all those years ago. I’m also gonna choose to believe that people will wipe away their cynicism, and ageism, and that hopefully kids will pay attention…again.
Oh, and in case you don’t know who Bob Mould is or what his music sounds like, you actually do. If you have ever seen The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Mould wrote the intro music (yep, that’s true).
Spotify playlist of the set: Bob Mould Fillmore 9.26.14.