Indie rock legends Sebadoh never really broke up. Sure, Lou Barlow and Jason Loewenstein took an extended break in 1999, and didn’t release any new albums together between then and 2013, but they reconnected occasionally over the years for shows or brief tours. In 2007 they were even rejoined by Eric Gaffney, who initially formed the band with Barlow in 1987 before leaving in 1993. The three toured in support of a spate of reissues of the band’s first few albums, letting the old heads relive their youth and the new ones get their own live taste of the “classic” lineup.
This tour stopped in San Francisco on Feb. 28, 2007, playing the Great American Music Hall during the Noise Pop festival. They played a smattering of songs from their records released between 1987 and 1993, including two of their most popular early hits (which, yes, with a band like Sebadoh is a very relative term), “It’s So Hard to Fall in Love” and “Brand New Love.” Both songs were originally released in 1987 on the first tape Barlow released under the name Sentridoh, and later reissued under the Sebadoh name on the 1990 record Weed Forestin’. These were solo acoustic affairs, just Barlow and his guitar making sad, quiet songs of heartbreak and loneliness. In ‘91 both songs were covered by Superchunk on the same single, giving them a loud, droning, rock work-over that transformed them both. Almost as if in response, Sebadoh themselves recorded new full band versions of both songs, turning them to heavy, noise-drenched anthems, and released them in 1992 on two different EPs in Europe. Later that year the new version of “Brand New Love” was included on the Smash Your Head on the Punk Rock comp that came out on Sub Pop, and became a college radio hit. At a time when Sebadoh records were still wildly disparate, jumping from the romantic lyricism of Barlow to the fractured noise and freestyle hardcore of Gaffney, “It’s So Hard to Fall in Love” and “Brand New Love” stood out as two of their most polished pop songs.
I gave you that too-long history lesson to explain why these two songs are permanently linked together, and why it’s not a surprise that Sebadoh would basically turn ‘em into a medley at that Noise Pop show in 2007. The track below might only list “It’s So Hard to Fall in Love,” but don’t worry—”Brand New Love” is on there too, tucked away about two minutes in, right after the first song ends. Both of them are as beautiful and powerful as they were 15 years earlier, and five years before that. Listen to ‘em both below.