Wednesday, December 12, 2007


Yesterday was perhaps what one designates as a flawless day. Waking up to robot-voiced warning call from the university canceling school was an excellent way to begin, considering how the only way I was going to leave my house is if I had a full dog-sled team at my disposal. Today was like the musical Superbowl, for I was finally able to see Dinosaur Jr, one of the most iconic and influential bands of the 80's-early 90's. If it was the Superbowl, then the pre-game show was reading the charming DI writer Ann Colwell's interview with Lou Barlow, Dino Jr's bassist, in the paper that morning. She really captured the sense that this reunion tour isn't just a victory lap, (like the Styx minus Dennis DeYoung era...even though they suck regardless) but an opportunity for the still-relevant band to demonstrate their ability to make still-relevant music.
The clock had struck the witching hour and it was time to head to the show, which had led me to a mad scramble to find some earplugs around the house. Dinosaur Jr. is legendary for their ear-bleeding shows, so I figured I should track down some sort of protection. Much to my chagrin, the hunt was unsuccessful, but who needs ears anyway?
As my motley crew walked into the Picador, lead guitarist/singer/head songwriter/ax wizard/awesome personified J. Mascis was standing right there! He was just chatting with some dude. That kind of excitement is kind of like walking into your living room before you go to bed on Christmas eve and seeing Santa there eating the cookies. As happy as you are, you still know the best is on the way. My own personal J. Mascis, John Patrick Hennessy Jr., front man of Iowa City band Birth Rites, put in a request to J. for the song "Sludgefeast", which we thought was nothing more than a futile effort. I only caught the last opening band, a sort of psych-garage band Awesome Color, for their last few songs, but I liked what I heard. But then again, I was there for one band.
Just watching Dino Jr. set up their equipment was so imposing, J. Mascis plays with three gigantic half-stacks surrounding him at all times, a sight that made my dainty peter-pan looking ears quiver in fear. The crowd was a pleasant mix of fans; college kids to young professionals to 40-somethings. I've seen this one righteous looking dude around campus and at a Pearl Jam concert in Chicago two years ago, and every time I've seen him he has been wearing the same Dinosaur Jr. shirt, so I was hoping he would be there. Sure enough, he was there, and I told him that mildly entertaining anecdote that you were just graced with. Noice.
Dino Jr. finally slunk onto the stage casually, (J. Mascis just walked through the crowd onto the stage pretty much) and it was time for a collective head explosion. The set began with the opener of their 1985 album Dinosaur, "Bulbs of Passion", letting the crowd know early that this was going to be a career-spanning set. Most of the set was a healthy diet of early 90's songs like "Feel the pain", to new songs off this year's release Beyond, taking time in almost every song for J. to launch into an expansive guitar solo. Even with J's virtuosic skill, drummer Murph definitely is the band's MVP live, on point and pummeling with time and vicious drum fills. The set concluded Lou Barlow taking vocal duties, with another Dinosaur song, "Forget the Swan", providing a cool bookend feel to the performance. I was slightly crestfallen though, because my favorite album You're Living All Over me had been barely represented, actually not even at all at that point. Oh me of little faith. The encore was all that album, rocketing into "Kracked" and then "Sludgefeast" (my friend's request) right after. HELL YES. Needless to say,I sleazed my way up to
the front row with the reflexes of an lolcat ("I can has life changing momentz?").

Awesome night. My ears are still ringing pretty bad, but it was well worth it. If you had to miss out on this concert, I suggest seeing The Sword at the Picador, this Sunday 16th. I just talked to their drummer and all-around good dude Trivett Wingo on the phone and its going to be awesome.

Love Jarrett

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