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Gimme indie rock: brushing up on Lou Barlow

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Lou Barlow returns to Las Vegas on February 23.
Photo: Adelle Louise Barlow / Courtesy

If you don’t know who Lou Barlow is, odds are you won’t go to his February 23 “small space” show in Las Vegas, at a “secret location” revealed upon ticket purchase. But you should, to celebrate one of indie rock’s key figures. Maybe this quick playlist will help … 

“Poledo” (Dinosaur Jr., You’re Living All Over Me, 1987) Dinosaur Jr. has always indisputably been guitarist J Mascis’ band, but Barlow contributed some chunky basslines—and a couple of songs—before being dismissed in 1989. This six-minute “ukulele collage” capped off the group’s most beloved album, and hinted at Sebadoh and Sentridoh strangeness to come.  

“Brand New Love” (Sebadoh, Weed Forestin, 1990) Tucked among the experimental, lo-fi beginnings of Barlow’s primary musical vehicle, Sebadoh, were sublime ballads like 1993’s “Soul and Fire” and this enduring classic. Hit YouTube for the acoustic original, then try out 1992’s electric follow-up on Spotify. 

“The Freed Pig” (Sebadoh, III, 1991) In which Barlow opens up about his relationship with Mascis (“Your big head has that more room to grow”), with whom he once again amazingly shares the stage these days in the reunited Dinosaur Jr. 

“Magnet’s Coil” (Sebadoh, Bakesale, 1994) Barlow writes a mean hook, too, evidenced by a slew of catchy, guitar-forward tracks on Sebadoh’s best album and its 1996 follow-up, Harmacy. Bet you can’t play it just once. 

“Natural One” (The Folk Implosion, Kids soundtrack, 1995) Don’t be fooled by the folky band name. This swirling piece of psychedelia—which didn’t appear in the film, by the way—sounds more like U.K. shoegaze. 

LOU BARLOW February 23, 7 p.m., $25+. Location TBA, bit.ly/2IckRja.

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Spencer Patterson

Spencer Patterson is the Editor of Las Vegas Weekly, having previously served as Managing Editor, Arts & Entertainment Editor and ...

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