Music » Livewire

Portastatic

With Tenement Halls and the Twilight. Sunday, September 11, at the Grog Shop.

It's been a long time since the marquee college rock bands of the '90s waved goodbye and rode off into the sunset. Time enough, in fact, that when a band like the Pixies gets back together, pundits consider it a reunion, rather than the end of a very long hiatus. And as the Pixies' recent sold-out tour made clear, a great band holds pride of place in the hearts of fans over and above the solo work, side projects, and new bands drummed up by its members after the main act ends.

Superchunk, Mac McCaughan's iconic indie rock band, hasn't split up, not technically. But for most of the current decade, McCaughan's creative energies have been funneled into Portastatic, raising the question: When is a side project not a side project anymore? And when will Superchunk fans give up the ghost, stop waiting for more of the band's loud, sputtering, melodic pop, and let themselves enjoy this new phase of McCaughan's career? With new LP Bright Ideas, McCaughan has given them good reason to get on board with Portastatic -- there are songs that spark, in places, like Superchunk of old, but the tempo and tenor of McCaughan's songwriting is different now. Bright Ideas is introspective, domestic, adult. It's not college rock, but that's OK, because Superchunk fans aren't in college anymore. Like McCaughan, they're all grown up.

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