Saturday Night: Dean Wareham Plays Galaxie 500 at the Fillmore
November 13, 2010
@ The Fillmore
Better than: Listening to On Fire and pretending someone could love you.
The rise of the Galaxie 500 cult is one of the many gratifications of onrushing rock geezerdom. Like that of many other music fans around during the trio's three-album 1988-91 run, my awareness of this short-lived, startlingly talented proto-indie band amounted to only a little more than intriguing background noise on MTV. By the time the trio's post-breakup compilation, The Portable Galaxie 500, came out on Rykodisc in 1998, most of the early-'90s shoegaze bands this group inspired had already vanished as well.
The opener began with a familial tolerance, since the place was rapidly filling with hipsters, ages ranging between teenager and blastocyte during G5's brief rush at near-stardom. The Papercuts repaid the indulgence amply with smart and strenuous dream-pop played with road dog gusto even though it was still early in the tour. "I met a Baldwin in L.A.," confessed Jason Quever, unshaved, sweat-soaked, and fronting a four-piece that was already beginning to look like Grand Funk Railroad at its most highway-blighted, before going on to babble of Disneyland, a mere 90 traffic-clogged minutes away in Orange County. Their winsome and hyper-melodic pop got much love from the audience at the end, before Big Star burbled onto the P.A. and the wait began.
The lights went up and the headliner hurtled into "Flowers," backed by a band that includes Wareham's wife, Britta Phillips, on bass. Now in his late forties, the frontman is poised; his plaintive, nervous tenor has mellowed into something more incisive in the manner of Ray Davies. His guitar playing is better then ever, bringing astonishing sensitivity to the opening song and laying on whorls of dense, billowing sound on the next, "Snowstorm," off 1989's On Fire. That album, now revered as a founding indie-rock document, was again dipped into for "Decomposing Trees," a song Wareham admitted had something to do with eating acid at 7-11.
Random notebook dump: "The star removes axe and gracefully exits for the ritual charade of encore. The audience gets time for a fairly respectful display of obscene, joyous howling & stomping."