This past Wednesday night I caught Dinosaur Jr.’s set at Irving Plaza (or is it The Fillmore New York at Irving Plaza?) and, holy crap, my ears are still ringing. The three original band members - J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph playing in front of a wall of stacked Marshall amps, were about as loud as anything I’ve ever heard. The crowd was a strange mix of old fans and new. To my right there was a guy with a straight-brimmed baseball cap turned to the side - I don’t think I’ve ever in my life been to a concert with someone wearing a hat like that, and on my left a girl who looked very much like a recovering goth-chick who stared menacingly at the stage pretty much without blinking all night. Then there was me in between - lanky white boy with a digital camera and a Brooklyn Lager. Diversity is the key. And by the way my pictures came out looking like crap - that one is from here. Where is Stuart Mockba when I need his expertise?
The generation (and social) gaps were quickly erased when the band tore into “Almost Ready” to open the show. It sounded impossibly murky, and was so loud that it got lost behind the inevitable distortion. In fact the sound was so bad that if I had never heard the song before I wouldn’t have known what the hell was going on onstage. Nobody really seemed to mind though, as the energy of the music was more than enough to compensate for the shitty sound.
Like the crowd watching them, they played a strange mix of the very old and the brand new with all songs getting enthusiastic receptions, albeit from different sectors of the audience. The sound smoothed out soon enough, and the band alternated between the classics and tracks from this year’s Beyond. There were only a small handful of songs from the post-Barlow early 90’s played (while not considered their “classic" era, it is arguably their most well known), which must’ve disappointed the poor guy who kept yelling for “Start Choppin’” (from 1993’s Where You Been, my personal fave). Among the new songs, “Been There All The Time” really stood out, with its start-stop rhythms proving that the band were as tight as ever.
J. Mascis, looking like a punk-rock Gandalf, seemed content to hide behind his long gray locks for most of the night. He only uttered a few “thanks for comings” early in the set, interspersed with some falsetto yelps here and there as well. His guitar playing did more than enough talking for him, and was as continually inspired as any I've ever witnessed live. It even prompted one guy near me to declare “Mascis is God!” - maybe not the most original idea, but it does seem as though Mascis was like the Clapton of the underground for a long time. I still consider the guitar solo in “Get Me” to be my favorite of all time. It was a fun night and the crowd loved every minute of it. I just hope my ears stop ringing soon.
MP3 :: Forget the Swan
MP3 :: Been There All The Time
Dinosaur Jr. website myspace