LOCATION: the Grey Eagle AVL.NC
SUBJECT: Matthew Sweet
Seeing Matthew Sweet in 2018 is an exercise in meta-nostalgia, which isn’t lost on Sweet himself. His entire aesthetic is rooted in nostalgia, evoking a shiny power pop, cherry picking from his 60s and 70s heroes. Sweet even kept himself busy the last while doing a series of decade-themed covers-records with Susanna Hoffs.
This show was also an exercise in his own history: Matthew Sweet hasn’t been a dominant force in music since 1994, at least. His moment came and went, somewhere just above one-hit-wonder. While he soldiers on, he also knows why his audience is there. The set was dominated by his first few albums, including every single from his breakout album Girlfriend.
I don’t say any of this as if I’m above it. I was a rabid fan of his early work—even caught him in Portland, 1994. Although I continue to collect (and listen to) his music, none of his new material has managed to grab me the way it used to. I cheered along when he rolled out cuts like Evangeline. How much of that is down to nostalgia, though? The only thing separating some of the hits, sonically from the smattering of new material he played was a lived-in, comforting familiarity.
I will say this, though, that crystal clear voice of his seems deathless.
NOTES: Matthew Sweet; Hard Rocket