When Sadie Dupuis released Slugger last year, it was a continuation of a productive creative period, through two Speedy Ortiz records (Major Arcana into Foil Deer) and the creation of an outlet for a slight tweak musically, with a focus on a pop aesthetic, made manifest by a greater dependence on keyboards and synths over the familiar guitars of Speedy Ortiz.
But in Whelan’s on a midsummer Wednesday, Sad 13 display far greater power musically, bringing this project much closer aurally to Dupuis’ main project. Following a promising opening set from Kerry songwriter Ruth, it is time for the main act. Live, Sad13 is a four-piece, Dupuis alternating between keys and guitar, augmented by bass, a second guitarist and drums. While occasionally the keyboard and synth lines on show overwhelmed some of the more nuanced work at play, this was but a minor gripe on a whole.
Opener ‘<2’ is a cracking scene setter, though there are intermittent struggles with feedback. This is a concise but vibrant set, taken to the next level when focus shifts from a twin guitar approach thus reducing the prospect of inevitable comparisons with the project for which Dupuis is better known. For this reason, ‘Get A Yes’ stands out in a live setting, much as it does on record; where its themes based on consent subvert the typical dunderheaded approach to such topics in modern day pop music.
Rumblings online suggest that the new Speedy record is close to completion which means this is the last opportunity to catch Sad13 for the foreseeable. Despite the unfortunately sparse attendance, this has been an energetic, invigorating set from a tremendous songwriter, and one of the most exciting guitarists operating today.