Bob Mould will forever embody the energy of a three-piece punk band. All that’s needed is a Fender Stratocaster and an amp. He’s one of those rare performers who can command a space with no backing band. “Is this amp loud enough for ya?,” he asked. “ I have to ask, because it never seems to be loud enough for me.”
Bob Mould is no-nonsense and always has been. In a simple black t-shirt and glasses, he could be mistaken for a man with any number of occupations. But, when he walked into the performance space at Levon Helm Studios, plugged in and turned on, there was no mistake. In the amber light of the legendary wood-beamed barn in Woodstock, Mould fiercely channeled over forty years of compositions, that he could seemingly pull from the ether. Once he started, there was barely enough time for applause, before he started the gritty chord progression of the next song – “Flip Your Wig” from Hüsker Dü’s 1985 album, “Hoover Dam” from Sugar’s 1992 Copper Blue, “See A Little Light” from his post-Hüsker 1989 solo debut Workbook and more. The songs flowing like a long, sputtering sonic release.
Mid-show he did allow for some quick pauses and offered some insight into his early life. Mould is known as a Minneapolis musician, but grew up in very northern New York (almost Canada) and has done a lot of recording in the Catskills area. He shared anecdotes about different studios and projects (including recording on the Hedwig and The Angry Inch movie soundtrack in a cabin nearby – fun trivia fact) as well as conversing with fellow guitar players in the audience about gear.
The Barn at Levon Helm Studios can feel like someone’s large, rustic living room, with perfect acoustics (which was the Band drummer’s intent). It was the perfect setting to get a powerful performance of over twenty songs and a bit of storytelling from such a seminal figure of indie music.
Deb Johnsen: Levon Helm Studios photo. Blake Little: Bob Mould photo. Photography was not permitted during this performance.