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Don's Music Views
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Bob Mould/Varnaline live on September 22, 1998 at Toad's Place, New Haven, CT

Zero Hour recording artists Varnaline opened the show with an excellent hour-long set. The band’s sound is something of a cross between modern rock and alt-country (just imagine Bob Mould joining Son Volt). Their set featured several tracks from their new release, "Sweet Life," as well as selections from their 3 previous albums. The climax, "Why Are You Unkind," from their self-titled release, featured a fantastic extended jam which showcased the frantic drumming of Jud Ehrbar. Another highlight of their set was "This Is The River," from their new release. The three-piece band is rounded out with John Parker (bass, upright bass, and keyboards) and Anders Parker (vocals, guitar). These guys really rocked the place! I hope we’ll be seeing them in the area again soon.

Bob Mould and band took the stage and immediately got down to business. In fact, the first three songs were so loud and distorted that Bob’s vocals were essentially inaudible in most of the club. The sound problems were corrected and his "Last Dog & Pony Show" continued. The tour, and album, are named so because he says this is his last one with an electric band. He plans on resuming his solo-acoustic format after this tour.

Tonight’s set was fast and furious with the band barely allowing the last note to end before beginning the next song. There was little between-song conversation as Bob was clearly focused on getting the job done. He didn’t appear to be enjoying himself and is likely looking forward to the acoustic gigs already. The song selection was odd and heavily based on his last 2 releases. This wasn’t one of Bob’s best performances but the former Husker Du and Sugar front man still could have taught something to most ‘modern rock’ bands out there today.

He returned for 2 encores, the last of which climaxed nicely with "See A Little Light."