So I went to see Matthew Sweet perform a concert at the 20th Century Theatre last night. He and his band played the entire Girlfriend album in celebration of its 20th anniversary. They opened the show with “Divine Intervention” and then proceeded to perform the album’s other 14 songs in order. They closed out the set with “Sick of Myself”, a song from 100% Fun that probably ranks as my favorite Matthew Sweet song. Then there was a brief break before the band came back out for a three song encore consisting of “Time Capsule”, “She Walks the Night” (the new single off Modern Art), and “We’re the Same”.
So basically what I got to hear over the course of the evening was the best Matthew Sweet album played in its entirety, my favorite Matthew Sweet song, two more “hits”, and a pretty good new song. Here’s what it looked like all spelled out:
Main set: Divine Intervention/I’ve Been Waiting/Girlfriend/Looking At the Sun/Winona/Evangeline/Day For Night/Thought I Knew You/You Don’t Love Me/I Wanted to Tell You/Don’t Go/Your Sweet Voice/Does She Talk?/Holy War/Nothing Lasts/Sick of Myself
Encore: Time Capsule/She Walks the Night/We’re the Same
If you’re just looking at that setlist, then you’d probably think this was an awesome show. Well, it wasn’t. It turns out that there’s much more to a successful concert than just song selection; there’s also sound quality and this show was a sonic disaster. Everything was way too loud. It was so loud that listening became physically painful at times. I had to listen to a couple of the songs from the lobby.
I don’t normally mind loud shows. What I don’t like is when it gets so loud that the sound becomes muffled. That’s what happened at this show. I couldn’t make out what Matthew Sweet was singing half the time. Due to this strange combination of excessive volume and muffled sound, I could only appreciate the quieter songs like “Thought I Knew You” and “You Don’t Love Me”. Even those didn’t sound right to my ear. I wandered around the venue all night trying to find a location where the sound actually worked, but I couldn’t find one. It was sludge turned up to eleven everywhere I went.
It was still sort of fun to hear Girlfriend and “Sick of Myself”, but that’s definitely the last time I go see an electric show at the 20th Century Theatre. Every single electric show I’ve seen there has been a catastrophe. There’s just something about that place. That’s too bad as Drive-By Truckers are playing there later this week and I’d really like to see them again. Oh well.