Vaselines, 1900s | Metro | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader
This is a past event.
When: Sat., May 16, 9 p.m. 2009
Price: $20
No recounting of the Vaselines’ history is complete without Kurt Cobain’s contributions: he invited them to open for Nirvana and delivered ringing endorsements in interviews, and Nirvana recorded covers of three Vaselines songs, two for Incesticide and another for MTV Unplugged. But even before anyone knew who Cobain was, the group founded by Scottish couple Frances McKee and Eugene Kelly had earned a measure of underground fame in the burgeoning UK twee scene, and Sub Pop’s 1992 collection The Way of the Vaselines has somehow snuck into the canon despite its dissimilarity to most other rock music people consider important. The songs are almost laughably simple and slight, the lyrics are mostly dumb in-jokes and double entendres, and the whole package is so lacking in bombast that it could be taken as a manifesto against the very notion of a rock canon. There are indications that the band themselves considered the songs disposable—the famously unpracticed performances, the cheaper-than-cheap recordings—but their indelible melodies are about as perfect as pop gets. When McKee and Kelly broke up, the Vaselines followed suit; the band’s shows last spring were their first since 1990. They played their first-ever U.S. dates last summer, and now they’re taking their first American tour to coincide with the release of a new two-disc retrospective. Sub Pop’s Enter the Vaselines adds rare demos and live tracks to the material on The Way and treats the recordings to a new mastering job—they sound as good as music made with an indifference to fidelity can sound. The 1900s open. —Miles Raymer

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