Bob Mould September 30, Bunkhouse.
Built to Spill and The Breeders might have been impressive first-month gets for the Bunkhouse Saloon, but Tuesday’s Bob Mould show felt like the rebuilt venue’s very purpose. The 53-year-old alternative icon had played Las Vegas just once since his ’80s Hüsker Dü days, and more than two decades had passed since that last local gig. But even more than his return itself, it was the way Mould returned—with a stacked setlist and an ace band beside him, paired with quality local opener Mercy Music, in a room meant for up-close rock assaults—that made the night extra special.
Beyond thanking the solid but not sold-out crowd for turning out on a “school night,” Mould kept his words to a minimum, even when third number “Hoover Dam” by his other ex-band, Sugar, presented an obvious chance to acknowledge his surroundings. Instead, the spectacled frontman simply slammed out tunes—24 songs in 73 minutes, a pace so ferocious he sweated through his dark button-down shirt.
Drummer Jon Wurster and bassist Jason Narducy, both of Superchunk fame, matched Mould’s intensity, with Wurster’s pronounced playing teaming with Mould’s spry guitar work to propel the set ever forward. After starting with throwbacks “Flip Your Wig” and “Hate Paper Doll,” the trio dug into Mould’s contemporary catalog—seven songs from June album Beauty & Ruin, three from its 2012 predecessor—though it wasn’t always easy distinguishing new from old, so noisy and tough has Mould’s recent songwriting surge been. “Little Green Pill” and “The War” stood out for their punky vigor, and audience enthusiasm sagged only slightly during the show’s less-familiar middle portion, and then only in comparison to the closing run of Hüsker Dü classics.
That stretch saw Mould reach back for “Divide and Conquer,” “Something I Learned Today,” “In a Free Land,” “Real World” and “Makes No Sense at All”—all delivered in a voice strong and remarkably consistent with its mid-’80s counterpart. When the trio capped off its encore with a cover of “Love Is All Around,” Sonny Curtis’ Mary Tyler Moore theme song, Mould’s final lyric—“You’re gonna make it after all”—hardly could have summarized the night’s mission realization more fittingly.
“Flip Your Wig” (Hüsker Dü)
“Hate Paper Doll” (Hüsker Dü)
“Hoover Dam” (Sugar)
“I Don’t Know You Anymore”
“Little Green Pill”
“Kid With Crooked Face”
“Nemeses Are Laughing”
“Hardly Getting Over It” (Hüsker Dü)
“Come Around” (Sugar)
“I Apologize” (Hüsker Dü)
“If I Can’t Change Your Mind” (Sugar)
“Hey Mr. Grey”
“Divide and Conquer” (Hüsker Dü)
“Something I Learned Today” (Hüsker Dü)
“In a Free Land” (Hüsker Dü)
“Real World” (Hüsker Dü)
“Makes No Sense at All” (Hüsker Dü)
“Love Is All Around” (Sonny Curtis)