Big Star’s Third at 9:30 Club (Washington, DC – August 23, 2014)
An all-star cast, with the original Big Star drummer, Jody Stephens, performed a spirited two-set show at the 9:30 Club on Aug. 23, 2014. Performing was a bouyant Lesa Aldridge, credited on the Third/Sister Lovers album (and former girlfriend of Big Star’s late frontman Alex Chilton and one of the “Sisters”). Mitch Easter and Chris Stamey (also the band leader) played with Chilton, post-Big Star. Others, like Mike Mills (REM acknowledged the Big Star influence) and Gary Louris, who were influenced by the band, were there. Pat Sansone of Wilco was also on hand, providing lead vocals, acoustic guitar, and organ.
Two sets were played with songs from the first two Big Star albums, performed during the first set. Songs from the Third album were performed in the second set. The encore concluded with Mills leading the band and crowd through “September Gurls” (or boys, in this case).
A second generation of performers figured prominently, too — Django Haskins, Brett Harris, and Skylar Gudasz all took turns on lead vocals. The band included a lovely string section, brass, woodwinds, and Indian tablas/sarod, enhancing the somewhat difficult compositions of Third.
Stephens came out from behind the drums to sing on multiple numbers, with a sense of calm and grace. Mitch Easter played great rock and roll licks on his Strat (and occasional orange Tele) all night, and Stamey was the glue that held it all together.
If this infrequent gathering makes it to your town, I highly recommend it!
photo: the original Big Star