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It must have seemed like a mirage to some.
Yet, it was real. Right there onstage was San Francisco’s own Creeper Lagoon, performing their first shows together in 16 years.
The long-overdue reunion of the band’s core lineup – Ian Sefchick, Sharky Laguana, David Kostiner and Dan Carr – was one of the marquee moments of the 2017 Noise Pop festival, which featured well over 150 acts performing at multiple venues throughout San Francisco and Oakland during its 11-day run (Feb. 17-27).
The indie-rockers sounded fairly strong, even as they joked to the crowd about being rusty and out of practice, as they rolled through a lengthy matinee set on Sunday at the Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. The band, which inked a deal with the DreamWorks label in the late ‘90s, was also scheduled to return to the club that same evening to perform a sold-out second set.
“Well, hello,” Sefchick greeted the crowd. “This is awesome. We are so happy to be playing these shows for everyone. There’s a lot of love in the room.”
There were also a lot of kids, including a number who were watching their dads perform onstage. The young ones definitely added to the casual, mellow vibe of the event, which felt more like a family-and-friends get-together than a regular concert.
That’s not to say that fans weren’t thrilled to see the band back together, but rather that everyone seemed to understand the purpose of this, most likely temporary, reunion. It wasn’t the well-planned first step of a comeback. Instead, it was some talented old friends, who once achieved some degree of success together in the music industry, getting back in touch to play a few shows.
And it certainly made sense that Creeper Lagoon would organize the reunion around the 25th anniversary celebration of Noise Pop, given the important shared history between the festival and the band. (Creeper Lagoon made its Noise Pop debut in 1995 and was a regular during the festival’s early years.)
It was great to see Laguana and Sefchick, the group’s two primary creative forces, up there onstage and leading the band through its first real gig since 2001. They’d kick the set off with a solid “Chance of a Lifetime,” which was also the album opener on 2001’s “Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday,” and then continued to grow stronger as the show progressed.
The concert was full of self-effacing humor, as these part-time rockers – who are in their 40s and have traded in the touring life for day jobs – joked about how they’ve changed in 16 years.
“Man, it’s loud. I have to put an ear plug in,” said Sefchick, the group’s primary vocalist and songwriter. “We’re too old for this rock ‘n’ roll stuff.”
Still, many of their songs have held up quite well over the years. In particular, it was nice to get to hear such “Take Back the Universe and Give Me Yesterday” cuts as “Dead Man Saloon” and “Wrecking Ball.”
Sefchick really poured himself into the music, in such a fashion that it was quite jarring to hear him describe his relationship to the songs in such unemotional terms.
“It’s funny,” he said. “Because all of these lyrics don’t really mean anything to me anymore.”
Maybe it was a different case for the cover material, which included a terrific version of Guided by Voices’ “Motor Away” midway through the main set and an even better job on the Pixies’ “Where Is My Mind?” during the encore.
Overall, it was a triumphant return for the band – even if it was, in all likelihood, a temporary one. Yet, there will apparently be something from this day that lasts on for years to come.
“We are all going out and getting Creeper Lagoon tattoos after the show,” Sefchick announced to the crowd.