[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.
I saw Dinosaur Jr. open up for Jane’s Addiction this summer. I enjoyed their set (in fact, I was really going mostly to see them although I did like Jane’s as well). But after it was over, I realized that I didn’t want to see them as an opening act. I needed a full show.
So even though it had been just a few months, when I saw that they were doing a headlining tour, I decided to check them out again. And I’m really glad I did. They played twice as many songs and were on more than twice as long.
The guys were able to stretch their songs out more and to pick from a really diverse set of songs. Of course, being the headliners didn’t mean anything fancy–their stage set up (amps and more amps) was exactly the same as this summer. And it’s possible that J. Mascis talked even less. They were there simply to rock.
The only time that bassist Lou Barlow spoke was to berate people for complaining that they couldn’t hear the vocals. The same thing happened at the summer show as well. Barlow seemed pretty angry as he told us that we were standing in front of the guitar amps and that the vocals were coming through the house speakers. So if we wanted to hear the vocals we needed to move to the back of the club. “It’s Fucking Physics!” I didn’t move back (the show was pretty crowded and I had a good spot), but I was able to hear the vocals much better than at the Summer Stage show. I had planned that I would stand nearer the back to see if it was true, but I had a hard time passing up the chance to be so close.
And they did not disappoint. They played songs from almost all of their albums. The set was weighted with new songs (which makes sense), but otherwise they played songs from all of their older albums (except their last album before the hiatus and, strangely, one of their reunion albums–and only one song each from the other two reunion records).
Dinosaur Jr was originally J. Mascis (guitar), Lou Barlow (bass) and Murph (drums). They made three albums, then Lou and Murph left. J. made four albums, and then took a hiatus. Then after a ten-year split, the trio reunited for the first of what has now been four albums (hard to believe it was almost a decade ago that they reunited).
They opened and closed the set with songs from their second album, the noisy You’re Living All Over Me. And in between they played stuff from all over their career, including a bunch of songs from the era when Lou and Murph weren’t in the band, which I find interesting (of course, they were relatively big hits).
But that’s the era I know best (I discovered them with Green Mind), so I was super excited to hear “Get Me,” a song I love.
Fortunately, the new album is really strong (so the fact that they played 6 songs from it is no bad thing). They played three songs in a row from it. Starting with “Goin Down” (which they did play last time) a simple, fast rocker that’s really fun and has a great moment with a cool guitar riff between verses. “I Told Everyone” is a slower song with a catchy chorus.
And then they played the only song that Lou sang lead vocals on. (I’ve said before, I’m surprised that Lou doesn’t contribute more to the Dino records/tours. He was so prolific (and wrote such great songs) that I wonder if he’s happy just doing an occasional song like the catchy “Love Is…”).
Then it was back to Green Mind, for my first favorite Dino song “The Wagon.” It was followed by the great “Watch the Corners” one of the great songs from their third reunion album I Bet on Sky.
At this point J. said one of the few things he said all night: “This is a new one.” As they played “Tiny”–an insanely simple and catchy song (with the chorus “I Wanna Know, I Wanna Go”). I love watching Lou Barlow play bass, by the way, and here’s a clip of him from this song.
And then the crowd went berserk when J. started playing the opening riff of “Feel the Pain,” one of the best alt songs of the 90s. The other reunion album song was “Crumble” a sweet, somewhat mellow song from Beyond with a cool guitar riff in the middle of the song.
The only slow moment of the night came when they played “Knocked Around” a really slow song in which J. sings in a delicate falsetto. It was a breather before they launched into “Start Choppin” another fantastic song from the 90s. Between the catchy opening chords, the high-pitched riff as they sing “Goodbye” and the insanely catchy chorus, this is a great song.
At this point I think J may have said that this was another new song before launching into the really heavy riffing of “I Walk for Miles.” Sometime around here, I noticed that J. kept walking to the side of the stage to drink some water and on one of these occasions he casually tossed a pick into the crowd (almost like an afterthought). It landed about three people in front of me, and I’m not even sure if they noticed it.
They played a great shambling version of “Freak Scene” one of only two songs from the album Bug (a classic with the original line up). Then they y ended the first set with “Gargoyle” a song I didn’t know (it’s from their debut album, which I never listen to). On the record it’s about two minutes long but live they jammed on it for about seven or eight minutes. It’s got a great bassline that really keeps the song going. It was really heavy, too. A great way to end the set.
I think of the Dinosaur guys as being kind of curmudgeonly. I wasn’t surprised that they came back for an encore (they aren’t dicks or anything), but I guess I also wasn’t surprised that their two encore songs were rather obscure. They played another song from Bug, “Budge” a noisy song with a catchy chorus. And they ended the set with “Sludgefeast” a low rumbling song from You’re Living All Over Me. The recorded version is a fuzzy song with lengthy instrumental passages. And they jammed those sections for a pretty long time before ending and walking off.
This show scratched the itch that was left after I saw them this summer.
|| 2016 Union Transfer
|Goin Down||Get Me|
|Back to Your Heart||Goin Down|
|Pieces||I Told Everyone|
|Feel the Pain||The Wagon|
|Start Choppin||Watch the Corners|
|Just Like Heaven (by The Cure)||Feel the Pain|
|I Walk for Miles|