SXSW Review: Soul Asylum, March 19, Scoot Inn


Okay kids, it’s history lesson time. Way back in 1992, Soul Asylum released Grave Dancers Union. They’d put out a bunch of stuff before that, and they’ve put out some stuff since, but this was definitely their biggest album, featuring singles such as “Black Gold,” “Somebody To Shove,” and of course, “Runaway Train.” And let me tell you kids, back in those days, when you wanted an album, you waited until a few singles had been released to decide if you wanted it. Then you saved up your coin and shelled out for a cassette. It was hard times, kids. Basically, what I’m getting at here is that Soul Asylum fans are old. Frontman Dave Pirner implied as much about an hour into their midnight set (which started about 15 minutes late) when, after playing “Runaway Train,” their biggest hit, he thanked the crowd “for staying up late with us.” Late? Dave, it’s just after 1:00 on the Saturday of SouthBy – the denizens of Sixth Street will probably still be doing it up well into the wee hours. But everything’s relative I guess.

While the band was promoting their freshly released album, Change Of Fortune, (“We’ve got a new album out – I’m supposed to say that”) there was definitely a nostalgic vibe to the show. Sure, the new stuff sounds pretty good (ie. it sounds like Soul Asylum) but from the opening riff of “Somebody To Shove,” I was taken back to that old cassette tape and singing along – looks like I still remembered a lot of those lyrics. However, nostalgia doesn’t necessarily forgive the cheesy lyrics of “Eyes Of A Child” off of 1995’s Let Your Dim Light Shine, which they played towards the end of their set:

She was just six when she turned her first trick
Now she’s thirteen and it don’t make her sick
And she does lots of crystal and she owns her own pistol
Got a goldfish named Silver and a pimp who’s named Rick

And some are like customers and some are like patients
She’d have gone back to school if she’d just had the patience

Yes, you read that right – he just rhymed “patients” with “patience.” I guess maybe that was considered edgy and deep subject material back in ’95 but it does come off as a bit cornball now. I don’t think Pirner and co. mind being a bit corny though, judging by Pirner’s dad jokes, his repeated use of the word “shucks” and his bizarre (yet kind of amusing) stage banter with the drummer during “Whatcha Need,” wherein they discussed what the audience might need at that point in the night. Suggestions included BBQ and partaking in”something illegal.” Also cheesy, but at the same time pretty awesome was their incorporation of McCartney’s “Silly Love Songs” onto the end of “Misery.” Sometimes it’s ok to be a bit cheesy.

Posted on by Paul in South By Southwest

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