Of all the bands to salute with devil horns, the action never felt more apropos than it did for Veruca Salt at the Bowery Ballroom. The Chicago alt rock foursome of Louise Post (guitar/vocals), Nina Gordon (guitar/vocals), Steve Lack (bass) and Jim Shapiro (drums) announced last year that, after 16 years apart, the original members had buried the hatchet and reunited. Regular updates via Twitter and the band’s Facebook followed, including news of a new record and tour, culminating in the release of “The Museum of Broken Relationships” b/w “It’s Holy” on the band’s former label Minty Fresh Records. And that’s only the beginning of new material from the forthcoming MMXIV album.
Whether it was that the hand symbol evokes a V shape, that the character the band is named after (from “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory”) was a little devilish or that the band simply rocked hard on this night is no matter. Everyone was doing the same.
Veruca Salt wasted no time delivering the goods as the band dipped into the past and launched into “Get Back,” the first track from the band’s 1994 debut album, American Thighs. When the quartet stuck close to shore with the bass-heavy second track “All Hail Me,” the crowd continued to eat it up. In fact, the foursome played nearly all of Thighs’ tracks throughout the evening, with the exception of four songs– including one glaring omission: “Number One Blind.”
Next up was “It’s Holy” followed by “Straight,” a taste of the band’s sophomore, decidedly harder rock effort Eight Arms to Hold You released in 1997 on Outpost/Geffen Records. Also included was “With David Bowie” and “Don’t Make Me Prove It.” Curious enough, Gordon’s white tank bared the words “It’s holy everybody knows it,” one of the song’s biting lyrics and, by all appearances, new merch for purchase.
When Post delivered the “Forsythia” solo with her face covered by her trademark brunette hair, the band churned along. She seemed to be home in the moment, and it was later confirmed when she addressed the audience after “Celebrate You.” “So this really great thing happened, Nina and I got over our shit. Then I called Steve and he said he was over his shit. Then Nina called Jim and said ‘Jim, are you over your shit?’” To which Shapiro replied “I got shit.” Then Post asked Gordon how she was: “I’m peachy…I’m very happy. I’m kinda’ speechless,” she responded. A beautiful rendition of the B-side “Aurora” followed, led by Gordon under a haunting white light and contrasted by Post under a purple hue. To quote yet another Veruca Salt song, it was “Awesome.”
Earlier, when the band played “I’m Taking Europe with Me,” from its Blow it Out Your Ass It’s Veruca Salt EP, the members introduced themselves just as they do on the recording. During the song, the ladies switched stage positions, engaged in a vocal call-and-response and Post added the lyrics “Kiss me till it bleeds” at the end.
Of course, when Veruca Salt played the hit, “Seether,” the crowd went wild. Yet “Shimmer Like a Girl” was really extraordinary, and in keeping with the night’s theme, Post hugged and kissed Gordon before leaving the stage after a performance of “25,” leaving Gordon to finish the rhythm. Moments before the encore began with the rock anthem “Shutterbug,” the two joined the stage hand-in-hand and Post said, “The last time I was here, I really missed you,” acknowledging for the first time how she had continued the band when Gordon and Lack left in 1998. But judging by this spectacular reunion tour, all is forgiven by everyone on and off the stage.
Veruca Salt’s North American tour has now wrapped, but catch them this September in Australia. More info here.