If there’s one trend that’s been constant throughout rock in the last 10-15 years, it’s the rock band reunion. It’s such a commonplace occurrence that you can break the reunions up into categories. There’s there “reunion after patching things up years following an acrimonious split” like the Pixies. There’s the “just play the hits and/or classic albums in full” reunion tours,” also like the Pixies, Neutral Milk Hotel, and Soundgarden. Then there’s the one-off/small number of shows reunion like Led Zeppelin, The Police, and The Grateful Dead. More recently, there’s the Sleater-Kinney kind of reunion, which really seems more like a resumption than a reunion, with the band recording an album in secret and returning to live shows without missing a beat.
Then you have a case like Veruca Salt, who one could argue went through all those stages, yet never actually broke up (or at least for very long, what with last-woman-standing/co-founder Louise Post announcing Veruca Salt was officially on “indefinite hiatus” in 2012). Of course, by 2012 they were Veruca Salt only in name, as they hadn’t recorded or performed with the four original members since 1997, and co-singer/songwriter/guitarist Nina Gordon left, acrimoniously, in 1998. So technically, there was only about a year where Veruca Salt were not a functioning band, but really, you had about 18 years without “Veruca Salt” as most people thought of them: At a minimum, a collaboration between Nina Gordon and Louise Post.
The band dipped their toes into the reunion pool slowly, announcing in 2013 “hatchets buried, axes exhumed,” and then touring with all four original members behind an EP of new material in summer of 2014. If they had were at all reluctant about getting the band back together, the rapturous crowd reception they’ve received in the year+ of shows had to assuage any lingering doubts. They were treated like rock royalty at their return to SF at The Independent last year, and the reception was no less at Slim’s on Friday night. After someone in the crowd at Slim’s yelled “Thank you for getting back together!” bassist Steve Lack replied “Thank you for making it SO easy.”
The show coincided with the release of their first new record with the original lineup since 1997’s Eight Arms to Hold You (thanks to record releases being changed to Fridays on July 10th.) So it was a extra joyous occasion for fans and band alike. Post got a little misty eyes describing the writing of “Empty Bottle,” detailing the “magical” Chicago scene of the mid 90s and how the song “just poured out of us,” and there was no apparent cracks in the reconciliation between her and Gordon (and Lack and drummer Jim Shapiro seemed pretty happy still too). The 22-song, 100-minute setlist was Ghost Notes heavy, but they made sure to throw in oldies like “All Hail Me,” “Forsythia,” “Seether,” (of course), and closed out the show with Eight Arms‘ “Volcano Girls.” Across the set, one impression that was made, and one that often gets overlooked, is how heavy Veruca Salt can sound. At times, with so much attention paid to their past strife, and to their catchy, poppy hits, you forget that Gordon and Post can really thump out some seriously heavy guitar licks. Veruca Salt are fully back now, and they don’t sound like they never left. They sound like they left, worked some shit out, and came back ready to rock the F out.
Check out the setlist and a bunch of photos (plus photos of openers Talk In Tongues, who played an impressive set as well) below:
Vercua Salt @ Slim’s, July 10th, 2015
The Gospel According to Saint Me
Black and Blonde
Shimmer Like a Girl
Laughing in the Sugar Bowl
Come Clean, Dark Thing
With David Bowie
Eyes on You
All Hail Me
Don’t Make Me Prove It
One Last Time (Louise Post solo a capella – first verse only)
The Museum of Broken Relationships
I’m Taking Europe With Me