All words: Jeb Gavin — All photos: Farrah Skeiky
Thursday night’s Dinosaur Jr. show at the Black Cat was exhausting. Brilliant, amazing as always, but exhausting. I hate admitting that. They play such good music. They play so loud, sound so aggressive without looking it. To a certain extent there is this oppressive nature to the show, they are there to kick ass, and occasionally your number comes up, and your ass gets kicked. It’s worth the experience, but it’s enough to wipe a man out you see it enough times.
The three paint quite a picture up there in a row. Mascis looks like someone scared Frank Zappa to the point where he was devoid of pigment and humor and really everything excepting madness-inducing guitar work. Barlow seems like everyone’s cool uncle, chatting by comparison since J and Murph didn’t feel like talking. Lou rocks back and forth as he plays, sliding around in place without ever moving from his third of the stage. Both are backed by stacks of amps- I’d go as far as to say ensconced, Marshall stacks towering over the pair of them on opposite ends of the stage. Murph was plopped between them, the dome of his head rising above the kit like a focal point on the stage. The backdrop behind the band- the cover of their latest album, was almost entirely obscured by equipment, an oddly funny visual statement about the band kicking ass no matter the cost.
The set ran the length and breadth of their discography, with obvious emphasis given to the new album. “Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know” was particularly impressive, though I was more taken by the opener, “See It On Your Side.” At one point Barlow explained how he and J used to be in a little hardcore act called Open Wound before they ran through their old “Training Ground”, which does in fact sound like someone might have an open wound, and they want to express their pain through evil, thrashing bass lines. Then for good measure, the guys closed out their encore with a cover of The Cure. I know it’s an odd comparison to make, but there were moments, often at the beginning of songs where it appeared as though we were watching a truncated version of the Grateful Dead up there on stage. The skronking, jamming intros were reminiscent of hearing Weir, Lesh, and Hart banging around in their intros. Each band member would bang around on his third of the stage, wandering their frets, tasting various drum pick ups and bouncing around sonically looking for an opening. Every moment was pure inspiration, maddening, flattening, grimy, unexpected sounds pushed out of the speakers slicked out on the audience like funky hot tar.
Fuck it. It’s always exhilarating seeing Dinosaur Jr. throw down. I was tired because I was tired. They bring it, and I should never say otherwise. The fact that I see Dinosaur Jr. melt faces and flatten pinna and all I can think is to quote PCU over and over again in reference to my own apathy is my problem. I’m starting to worry burn out is a real possibility here, and I’m not referring to the fan base. They were great. They were loud. They should play here more often.
See It On Your Side
Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know
Watch the Corners
Feel the Pain
What Was That
In a Jar
Forget the Swan
Just Like Heaven