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All words: Travis Andrews

Recently, I covered a Cranberries show at this very venue, and I’m pretty sure I’m looking at the same exact crowd. In fact, in some ways, I feel like I’m watching the same exact band. Not sure what it is about 90s music, but the overly-produced feel and the way these bands play: no mistakes but also no extra oomph. There’s also the issue of how everyone on stage is dressed in clothes that don’t seem to move. It doesn’t quite feel like watching real people.

Matthew Sweet is playing his 1991 album Girlfriend, and he sounds perfect. Pitch-perfect. The crowd, however thin, seems to be loving every moment. It’s obvious why, again: every single note from that album is played here. For better or worse, this is like listening to the album albeit far louder and with a whole lot more people.

Sweet’s funny too. After playing the first two tracks from the album, both singles, he says, “WE kind of got the encore out of the way on this one. Someone told me Metallica was doing their whole album backwards to save the best for last.”

Both he and the band look a little worse for wear, and the band doesn’t really have much stage presence, but Sweet himself is a good showman. I wrote this about the Cranberries, and it’s true here: the musicians around him feel like studio musicians, playing precisely but also boringly.

Though, the second guitarist is wearing an unbuttoned flannel shirt with a black t-shirt underneath, in case I needed more proof that this band was big in the 90s. I keep expecting to see the cast of Friends dancing their merry hearts out.

Important Sidenote: There’s a woman here wearing skin-tight black leather pants and six-inch heels. Gotta admit, wasn’t expecting to see that at a Matthew Sweet concern. Nor from a 30-year-old. The band’s setlist might be predictable tonight, but the crowd is anything but.

It’s odd to review this show since reviewing the show is almost exactly the same to reviewing the album. What stands out most is how much this idea doesn’t work. I’ve heard this about other bands playing full albums, but I’d never seen it before. Thing is, album pacing and concert pacing are generally different. For a reason.

I really also have to wonder at what point in your life you look in the mirror and say, “No, this is the best my ass will look before I die” and then go ahead and buy a pair of leather pants. I’m sorry. I realize that isn’t the issue at hand, but you just really have to wonder. I’m not even sure where you buy leather pants.

ANYWAY, the pacing is a little off, especially as he wraps up the album, which ends winding out with a few long songs. Frankly, if you’re not Sigur Ros, you probably don’t need to play your album in full.

WHOA. STOP THE PRESSES! THIS MAN HAS GONE OFF HIS ROCKER. WE’RE OFF-SCRIPT. THE CONCERT SHOULD BE OVER, BUT HE’S PLAYING MORE.

The three bonus tracks off the cassette version of Girlfriend (yes, cassette version) were one thing. Now he’s playing the band’s big hit, “Sick of Myself” off 100% Fun. I feel betrayed.

Oh, and three encore songs too. Sure, Sweet, YOU GODDAMN LIAR. Your plan kind of failed though, since half the crowd walked out after the end of your first set, SINCE YOU SAID YOU WERE JUST PLAYING GIRLFRIEND. My world is shaken, and I’ve failed to even acquire one good photo of this concert, which probably means I’m fired. I think it’s time for me to leave.

Maybe next week, I’ll get to see a Toad the Wet Sprocket show.

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