Hardly Getting Used To Getting By: “Circle Of Friends: Bob Mould, Live at the 9:30 Club”

By on April 26, 2018

On October 7, 2005, Bob Mould — formerly of Hüsker Dü and Sugar, and seen here performing again as a solo artist for the second time in his lengthy career — played twenty-three songs spanning his entire recorded legacy at the 9:30 Club, located in our nation’s capital, which Rolling Stone once dubbed “ground zero for D.C.’s Reagan-era hardcore scene.”

The fully-authorized DVD — which proudly claims “this performance is the definitive collection for new and longtime fans alike” — was released in 2007 as Circle Of Friends: Bob Mould, Live at the 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. and you can now find it streaming on our Night Flight Plus channel.

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Mould’s cohesive band — featuring bassist/vocalist Jason Narducy (Rocket Over Sweden), keyboardist/vocalist Richard Morel (Morel) and drummer Brendan Canty (Fugazi) — track their way through a lot of Mould’s fans favorite tunes, including tracks from his 1989 solo album Workbook, and most of the tracks from Mould’s then-latest solo album, 2005’s Body of Song.

The band also played six songs from Sugar’s 1992 album Copper Blue album, including “Hoover Dam,” “If I Can’t Change Your Mind” and “A Good Idea.”

(Sugar released two albums, although it was essentially a solo project for Mould, marketed as a band).

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Mould’s band also faithfully tackle six hoary old Hüsker Dü numbers for the first time he would essay any of his beloved and influential Minneapolis/St. Paul rock trio’s material since they broke up in 1988.

In addition to “Could You Be The One,” “I Apologize,” “Celebrated Summer,” “Chartered Trips,” “Makes No Sense At All,” they play what for us what this concert’s high-point, “Hardly Getting Over It,” a touching somber ballad from the band’s 1986 release Candy Apple Grey, which was somewhat out of character for Hüsker Dü at the time but fits in with Mould’s later solo recordings.

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The lyrics to “Hardly Getting Over it” give, in Mould’s own words, “a very clear picture of a family and mortality in its different forms — family who pass away and how one handles it when it happens.”

My parents, they just wonder
When they both are going to die
And what do I do when they die?
Now I’m hardly getting over it
Hardly getting used to getting by

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“That was show 21 out of the 25 shows, so we were on fire at that point,” Mould told Billboard about this particular 9:30 Club gig.

“That was about as tight as we were going to get without going through the motions. It was easily the best show of the tour.”

Read more about Circle Of Friends: Bob Mould, Live at the 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. below.

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Mould’s first non-solo tour in over a decade was dubbed the “Body of Song” tour since Mould and his band were promoting his latest album of the same name, his first studio recording under his own name since 2002’s somewhat controversial Modulate album, which had relied heavily on electronic effects, tape loops and samples.

One of the Modulate album’s tracks — played here by Mould and his band — was “The Receipt,” which fans and critics alike realized was a vitriolic thinly-veiled attack on his former Hüsker Dü bandmate, drummer/singer Grant Hart, in which Mould sings “I still hate your favorite song.”

Mould and Hart’s relationship — described by NPR as “an artistically productive but legendarily combative” one — had led to them not communicating with each other other by any means other than through song lyrics or their lawyers (Hart died in 2017 after battling kidney cancer).

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The 9:30 Club venue’s fairly intimate size and a rather emotive use of stage lighting, particularly a moody deep blue-hued shade that washes over the band from time to time, make for an enjoyable viewing experience for Mould’s fans.

Rolling Stone magazine has previously called the 9:30 Club in Washington D.C. — whose owners apparently also considered naming “Chair Dancing Nightly,” “Tuba Dancing,” “Aerosol” or “Cool Whip” — one of the best “big rooms” in America:

“After opening in 1980 in an out-of-the-way part of town, the 9:30 became ground zero for D.C.’s Reagan-era hardcore scene – local teenager Dave Grohl saw hundreds of bands there. The club snagged every name in new wave, punk and alt-rock, including R.E.M., Nirvana and Green Day, before moving on to more mainstream stuff like Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan. Since moving to a larger location in 1996, playing the 1,200-capacity club has remained a rite of passage for indie acts on the rise.”

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Drummer Brendan Canty’s and film director Christoph Green’s film production company Trixie released this DVD in 2005.

Their company was co-founded in order to release a series of music-related film releases, gathered under the title Burn to Shine, which showcased independent and alternative rock bands hailing from a particular region in the country who perform just one song, live, without any overdubs or corrections, in a house that is about to be demolished.

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Volume One of the first Burn to Shine release featured artists/bands based in the D.C. area, including Bob Mould, Weird War, Q and Not U, Ted Leo, French Toast, Medications, fellow Fugazi member Ian MacKaye’s side project The Evens, and Garland of Hours.

(At the time, Mould lived in the D.C. area — where he first met Canty — but his current home is San Francisco, CA, where he’s lived since 2009).

Circle of Friends uses the same camera crew and filming style seen in the Burn to Shine series.

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Watch Circle Of Friends: Bob Mould, Live at the 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. on Night Flight Plus.

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About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.