By Dave Pehling

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) — An iconic musician and songwriter who exerted a huge influence on ’80s punk and ’90s alternative-rock bands, Bob Mould brings his current trio to August Hall in San Francisco Friday night.

A founding member of pioneering Minneapolis punk trio Hüsker Dü, Mould started the band with drummer Grant Hart and bassist Bob Norton in 1979. Matching hardcore ferocity and speed with a gift for melodic songwriting no other punk band came close to, Hüsker Dü built a rabidly loyal following with its early tours and initial output on SST Records, including such indelible classics as the frenetic live album Land Speed Record, their studio debut Everything Falls Apart and their landmark double LP Zen Arcade in 1984, a sprawling, ambitious effort which showed the band pushing the boundaries of punk.

 

The group moved to Warner Bros. Records after releasing Flip Your Wig in 1985, its final recording for SST that showed the band in full power-pop mode, having largely left it’s early punk sound behind. The two albums released for the major label — Candy Apple Gray and Warehouse: Songs and Stories — had minimal commercial impact, but are often credited with laying the groundwork for many of the alt-rock and noise-pop bands that would emerge after the group split in 1988.

Following the split, Mould would quit drinking and doing drugs before focusing on his first solo effort, Workbook, that took his music in a lighter, more singer/songwriter direction. However, the musician would return to working in band setting (as well as his gift for mixing buzz-saw guitars and pop melodies) in 1992 with the power trio Sugar, which put out two acclaimed albums and an EP during its brief three years in existence.

In the decades since, Mould has continued to explore confessional solo acoustic songwriting and loud, tuneful rock with equal success, as well as detouring into electronic dance music both on recordings and as a DJ. Mould has also something of a fixture in San Francisco, taking up part-time residence in a Castro District apartment and appearing at multiple editions of Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park over the years.

Mould is set to perform as part of this year’s virtual Hardly Strictly Everywhere, appearing on the festival’s livestream Friday evening in a duo with veteran Saturday Night Live comic and accomplished musician Fred Armisen (who played drums with Devo during the band’s Burger Boogaloo set in Oakland several years ago). Bay Area fans will also have a chance to see Mould in person when he headlines August Hall Friday night with his current band featuring bassist Jason Narducy and drummer John Wurster.

Mould’s latest recording Blue Hearts came out on Merge Records just over a year ago, but his current tour marks the first time he’s been able to take to the road to promote it since the pandemic shutdown. A fiery collection of songs ruminating on everything from climate change and political/social turmoil in the U.S. to more internal self-reflection, the album stands as another powerful statement from one of the most vital artists of his generation. For this show at August Hall, Mould and his trio are joined by opening LA-based band Moaning, who released their most recent album on Sub Pop Records Uneasy Laughter in March of last year.

Bob Mould
Friday, April 1, 8 p.m. $28.50
August Hall