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Coachella 2009: Superchunk burns through '90s hits; redeems emo

April 18, 2009 |  8:02 pm


One has to wonder: If Pavement had headlined this year, would Superchunk's set have been bumped from the inglorious heatstroke-baiting time of 5 p.m. on the Outdoor Stage to something more cool and flashy? After all, both are from the '90s and both are awesome -- I could say it more creatively, but those are simply the facts. One could have lifted the other. It also helps that Mac McCaughan has aged into a stately indie force with his fantastic label, Merge.

Superchunk hails from a time when two guitars and a bass didn't seem excessive for a four-piece. The Chapel Hill crew could have owned the Main Stage, if given half the chance, with their assault of snapping, burning guitars (old-school emo, back when that wasn't a dirty word in certain circles) and Mac's nasal tenor, which brings to mind a liquor-swilling skate rat, a poncy college grad and the pissy record store clerk (who's secretly a big softie) all at the same time.

It was clear, as Mac, Laura Ballance, Jim Wilbur and Jon Wurster chugged through hits from their self-titled debut to their latest EP, "Leaves in the Gutter," that a lot of bands have borrowed their blueprint. Fall Out Boy has taken the intoxicating riffs of Superchunk's indie power pop and grafted on a whole new set of glitz, glamour and Twitter-perfect club-scum sentiments. As powerful as certain moments of "Folie a Deux" are, it can't hold a candle to today's performance of "Driveway to Driveway," a mix of burn and swoon.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images