concert reviews

Goodnight Moon: The Sun Sets on Luna
Luna at the 9:30 Club, Washington, DC, Saturday 18 December 2004

There's nothing like a farewell tour to draw attention to a band that has otherwise been chugging along for more than a decade.

Such was the case for Luna, which sold out the 9:30 club on Saturday night despite lower attendance at its last few Washington shows.

Luna's mastermind, singer-guitarist Dean Wareham, formed the band from the ashes of Galaxie 500 and has for seven albums continued G500's minimalist songwriting style behind his Lou Reed-esque vocals.

The show was a solid performance for the dream-pop veterans, with most of their songs ending with instrumental interludes -- chords shimmering around brief, repetitive riffs.

But the band's energy seemed intermittent: Those interludes didn't always grow or climax and were often accompanied by Wareham, bassist Britta Phillips, and guitarist Sean Eden standing still and staring down at their instruments. The most unpredictable sound may have occurred during Wareham's between-songs mumbling, when Eden emitted a noticeable belch.

Despite the obvious restraint in both their music and their stage presence, the four musicians unleashed a slew of old favorites, from Galaxie 500's "Tugboat" to a cover of Serge Gainsbourg's "Bonnie & Clyde."

Luna began its second encore with the furiously strummed "Time to Quit" and ended with a lilting cover of Beat Happening's "Indian Summer," a merge of song titles that suggest that, while it might be time for Luna to call it quits, it seems unlikely that Wareham will retire from music for good.

Perhaps his next project will renew the energy that earned Luna such an enthusiastically attended farewell.

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post, 20 December 2004
.: Selected discography: Rendezvous (Luna, 2004); L'Avventura (Britta Phillips & Dean Wareham, 2003); Romantica (Luna, 2002); The Days of Our Nights (Luna, 1999); Pup Tent (Luna, 1997); Penthouse (Luna, 1995); Bewitched (Luna, 1994); Slide EP (Luna, 1993); Lunapark (Luna, 1992); Galaxie 500 Box Set (Galaxie 500).