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Friday, July 11, 2014

Veruca Salt w/ Battleme @ Turner Hall Ballroom

July 10, 2014

veruca salt 2014 reunion turner hall ballroom
Photo credit: Ross Zentner
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Chicago band Veruca Salt experienced a swift rise to fame in 1994, helped along in no small part by the then all-powerful MTV bestowing significant airplay on their debut single, “Seether,” but maintaining that level of acclaim proved trickier than attaining it in the first place. After only two albums and an EP, the long-rumored feud between founding members Nina Gordon and Lousie Post caused the original incarnation of the band to implode. While Gordon pursued a solo career, Post recruited some new players and carried on using the Veruca Salt name, but things were never quite the same. That is, until last year, when the original lineup, complete with drummer Jim Shapiro and Steve Lack on bass, announced it had buried the hatchet and were not only reuniting, but recording new material.

News like that is usually greeted with intense excitement, followed closely by some nagging skepticism (it is rather convenient they got back together just in time for their 20th anniversary, and at a moment when ’90s nostalgia is particularly rampant), but any suspicion that their reconciliation is merely commercially motivated should have been put to rest by Thursday’s fun performance at Turner Hall Ballroom. Shortly after unremarkable openers Battleme wrapped up their set with a cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black),” the band took the stage, greeted like old friends by the sizable crowd, and as they tore into “Get Back,” the lead-off track from their first full-length, 1994’s American Thighs, it was immediately clear that they were not simply sharing the same stage, but enjoying each other’s company.

Considering the circumstances, it was unsurprising that the setlist focused heavily on the three original releases, making time for more of American Thighs, including “Seether” (naturally), as well as material from the 1996 Steve Albini-recorded Blow It out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt, such as “Shimmer Like A Girl,” and their 1997 sophomore LP Eight Arms to Hold You, like “Venus Man Trap” and “With David Bowie.” They did, however, take the opportunity to show off a song or two from their as-yet-unreleased new album, which didn’t sound at all out of place slotted alongside rejuvenated renditions of older cuts. Between the music and the cheery stage banter, they seemed genuinely excited to be making another go of it together after all these years; hopefully it lasts a little longer this time around.