Sunset Rubdown played Crystal Ballroom – 3/28

Canadian art-rock collective Sunset Rubdown brought their reunion tour to Somerville’s Crystal Ballroom with support from Nicholas Merz.


There are band reunions you rule off the table for practical reasons or stern proclamations, and then there are the ones that just feel like the regular kind of unlikely. For some years, Spencer Krug’s Sunset Rubdown fell into the latter category. The prog-y indie rock project, which originated as a Krug solo venture, ran concurrently with his more indie-mainstream-visible Wolf Parade from 2005-2009, and disbanded without acrimony following a busy year of touring on their final record Dragonslayer. Wolf Parade continued on, deactivated and then reactivated in the years following, and Krug kept busy with various iterations of solo work, but the book simply seemed closed on Sunset Rubdown.

That 2009 tour just barely predated my regular showgoing days, which I’ve often lamented given how much I love the bombastic Dragonslayer. I spun that record for the first time in a while a few months back and jokingly tweeted that a reunion ought to be in the works, which somehow turned out to already be true. Weird how things manifest sometimes.

The idea came to Krug in a dream, he told an enthusiastic crowd at Crystal Ballroom last week. He emailed the group’s three other main members (multi-instrumentalists Camilla Wynne Ingr, Michael Doerksen and Jordan Robson-Cramer) soon after and all were in agreement that the songs ought to come back to life. And so they did, during a generous and spirited 90-minute set.

“I appreciate and acknowledge that our set is really fucking long tonight,” Krug announced later, to vigorous cheers. One never knows precisely how much enthusiasm the reunion of a quirky ’00s indie band will drum up more than a decade on, but the cult of Sunset Rubdown was out in full force. A pretty packed house was happy to dance along to these dense and fantastical songs for as long as the band felt like dishing them out.

Despite being just a few nights into this reunion run, the foursome sounded fully in the groove already – some feat considering the knottiness of the material, swapping of instruments and sheer amount of music to play – and were clearly having fun with it. Amidst the old favorites (“Silver Moons,” “Shut Up I Am Dreaming…”, the certifiably epic show-closing “Dragon’s Lair”) was even a new song, indicating these dates are probably not the last we’ll hear from the band. It’s good to have them back.

Opener Nicholas Merz (who sat in on bass for the second half of the SR set) was also a delight, accompanying himself on pedal steel and some minimalistic backing tracks for a sort of ambient-alt-country set. Check out photos from both acts below.