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Veruca Salt's Original Lineup Proves More Potent Than Ever Onstage

By Tankboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jul 15, 2014 7:00PM

The original line-up of Veruca Salt—Nina Gordon, Louise Post, Jim Shapiro and Steve Lack—finally returned to Chicago for two sold-out shows at Lincoln Hall. The setting was fitting, since the band played their very first show a few doors down in the now gone but certainly not forgotten Lounge Ax. The show also served as a coming together for the bands extended family as we spotted past members of Veruca Salt, music engineers and other collaborators from the band's history dotting the crowd. The big question hanging in the air, over a band that was more explosive when it came to offstage drama than onstage dynamics, was, "Can they pull this off?"

The band wisely stuck with a setlist that didn't extend past Gordon's original tenure in the group, and the focus on that early portion of their catalog served the show's needs better than expected. While Veruca Salt was notable for their hard rocking (and partying) ways back in the day, their debut American Thighs didn't quite pack the sonic punch their songs deserved. That was duly rectified in a live setting as songs that on record could drag on a bit, like "Victrola," were turned into molten stompers and Shapiro bashed away behind Gordon and Post's dueling guitars, all threaded together with thudding bass from Lack.

Midway through the set Post prompted Gordon to sing an acoustic duet of a song she called "History," a song she claimed was one of the first songs the band wrote in 1991 that was probably last played in 1992. It was a tenuous moment, and there was the throb of the uncertain as both singers tentatively wended their way through the tune. But it was also that moment that made us believe Veruca Salt has a future ahead of them that extends beyond nostalgia. There's an interplay between Gordon and Post that allows the two to take chances and fall down in front of a crowd, because they're both in it together. Teamwork like that is what allows people to do crazy stuff, and it's always the crazy stuff that ends up making history.

So there was much about the show that was a trip down memory lane, a victory lap, and a reunion of friends both onstage and in the audience. But most of all it was a sign that actual chemistry amongst performers is still a rare thing to behold and what Veruca Salt has going on right now could be positively explosive in the future.