If there was one flaw to be had with Numero Group’s Bedhead retrospective Bedhead 1992-1998, it was that it did not document the band’s live performance. Though their records might have burned with a quiet, subtle intensity, when they performed live, Bedhead would become a very loud band. Like many of their seeming “slow-core” brethren, their music morphed into something very heavy and intense when they stepped onstage.
Live 1998 offers eleven live tracks–eight from a performance in Chicago, with three additional numbers, recorded in San Francisco, added to the CD and digital release. Though this set was recorded during their final tour, supporting Transaction de Novo, of the eleven songs, only two numbers from that record appear here–“Extramundane” and “Half-Thought.” Live 1998‘s setlist is drawn mainly the band’s fantastic, groundbreaking debut album, 1994’s WhatFunLifeWas. Versions of “Life Raft,” “Living Well” and “Powder”–songs already perfect jewels–transform into something even more amazing, thanks to the hushed hushness of Matt and Bubba Kadane’s vocals, tempered with the wall of noise that appears by song’s end.
Bedhead is gone and they’re probably never coming back, and it’s a shame that their reputation grew after their demise, because for those who caught them live–and I am fortunate to be one of those lucky few–they were a very special band, indeed. Live 1998 is an excellent document of that aspect of one of Texas’ best-ever rock bands.