Sometimes I’ll go see a show in spite of where it’s at, other times I go to a show because of where it’s at. I wouldn’t normally travel six hours to see Bob Mould, but when he’s playing somewhere as unlikely as Grandma’s Sports Garden just an hour north of my family cabin it seemed worth the drive. If you’ve never been to Duluth the fact that the legendary rocker was playing a place with Grandma’s in the name may seem strange. Grandma owns Duluth, the original grill & saloon has spun off a number of other satellite spots in its hometown, including Mexican and Italian cuisine, and a few beyond, while long distance runners know Grandma as the sponsor of the annual marathon. The Sports Garden is exactly what it sounds like, a giant sports bar full of TV screens and arcade games. Despite the large stage, it still seemed an unlikely place for a show. The fairly generic opener was likeable enough and seemed to have a few fans of their own, I’m pretty sure a table full of their relatives was sitting next to us. Hands down, the best thing about them was the girl bass player who completely rocked.
I thought I would spend most of the show watching drummer Jon Wurster. The omnipresent musician, who also plays with the Mountain Goats and Superchunk, is uproariously funny on Twitter, in addition to being totally adorable. And he was adorable, but I found myself paying more attention to bass player Jason Narducy. I’d seen him once before with Mould at the Majestic in Madison, but Michelle assures me that was a terrible show. I do know that I don’t remember him being that awesome. I’m not sure if it was his Fonzie-surpassing cool or his wicked playing, but I was pretty much hypnotized. Which leaves Mould himself who seems to be having the time of his life, and with a career as long and storied as his, that’s saying something. Michelle said the show she’d seen in Detroit a few months back was the best she’d ever seen him. Ever. And that’s going back twenty years. And it seems to be the band that’s responsible. “You guys are the longest running band I’ve had,” he observed, shaking his head, “I wonder why that is?” No drugs or alcohol seemed to be the answer.
I don’t know much of Mould’s music, I didn’t recognize anything other apart from the most popular of Sugar tunes, but that didn’t stop me from enjoying the show. In fact, my friend Ryan Hembrey, who was doing tech work for the band for two Minnesota dates, took a picture from the stage where you can see me in the audience. I appear to also be having the time of my life. Yes it was an unlikely combination of location, venue and artist, but it was definitely a good time.