Veruca Salt may not be the biggest band of the 90s doing the reunion circuit right now, but one look at the enthusiastic crowd that gathered at the 9:30 Club last Saturday showed that they are still loved by a large and diverse following. It no doubt helps that the alt rock band came out swinging last month with a new album, Ghost Notes, which easily rivals the best of their earlier material. When the band first got back together in 2013, they made the announcement that they had returned “hatchets buried, axes exhumed,” and through the 20-song set of material old and new they made good on that promise.
Opening the set with new track “Prince of Wales” was a bold choice – not only was there the risk that many in the audience hadn’t heard it yet, but at over five and a half minutes long, it’s one of the longer songs in the band’s repertoire. A slow burning song that starts with a churning bass line and builds to an energetic burst in the chorus, it felt like the band reintroducing themselves. And the audience ate it right up. Following it with “I’m Taking Europe With Me” from the 1996 EP Blow It Out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt, the band proved that the new material and the old could mix seamlessly.
While Louise Post ably carried on with the band on her own for several years and two albums after the others left, there’s no denying the magic of the original line-up. In particular, the dual vocals of Post and fellow guitarist and singer Nina Gordon serve as a trademark of the band’s sound, with the two alternating between harmonies and dueling tension. With bassist Steve Lack and drummer Jim Shapiro behind them, it’s easy to tell why they were, and still are, one of the most compelling bands in their genre. Watching them interact on stage now, it’s hard to believe that there was ever a time when frictions within the band pulled them apart. Speaking about Gordon’s track about the conflicts, “Triage,” Post noted that while the track was hard for her to hear, as soon as she heard the track she said they had to record it.
The band, of course, covered all of their hits, including “Volcano Girls,” “Seether,” and “Shutter Bug,” but also reached deeper into their albums, digging out tracks like “Shimmer Like a Girl,” “Spiderman ’79,” and “Earthcrosser.” The band wisely chose eight of the fourteen tracks from Ghost Notes to play, making certain that the new material was well represented while not losing their audience to too much unfamiliar territory.
Self-described “bubblegum grunge” band Charly Bliss opened the show. The Brooklyn quartet, who has so far released only a pair of EPs, provided an energetic start to the show, fitting in well with Veruca Salt’s sound while still sounding fresh and current.
All photos by Matt Condon. Click to embiggen.