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    King Tubby
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    THE VIEW FROM OUR SEATS: Dinosaur Jr.
    Dinosaur Jr., 9:30 Club, Washington D.C.
    With the Merge Records re-release of their first three albums, ‘Dinosaur,’ ‘You’re Living All Over Me,’ and ‘Bug,’ Dinosaur Jr. has returned to the stage in their original, most dynamic formation and with their early, more spastic sound.

    Before leaving to form Sebadoh, bassist Lou Barlow along with frontman J. Mascis and drummer Murph produced a searing combination of late ’80s post-punk, metal and noise-rock, all of which came together on the 9:30 Club stage to create a wall of sound punctuated by Mascis’ loveably nasal snarl. Though the performance itself was low-key, age has not slowed the trio — Murph’s drumming is as enigmatic as ever, Lou Barlow is just as taciturn and dedicated, and J. Mascis can still thrash and distort a melody beyond an ear’s recognition.

    Aside from Murph’s manic work on the drums, all three were more reserved than the music they played. They finally sauntered onto the stage in quick procession after an interminable sound check. The stage was empty of any props as Mascis, hidden by his Rapunzel-length grey hair, and Barlow, looking like he hasn’t aged at all, took their places flanking Murph and began to hammer out, ‘Gargoyle.’ It wasn’t until they were three or four songs into the set that the rapt and relatively motionless audience was addressed. Best among Mascis’ terse comments was when he mentioned that the last time they had played D.C. was at the old location of the 9:30 Club, where the size of the rats are still legendary around the city. Most of the crowd was old enough to remember exactly how huge those rodents were, but not yet old enough to complain about the blaring volume of the set.

    The weight of these early albums is that it was highly influential music, born of Black Sabbath and the Buzzcocks, and just barely fringed with the reverb and crunching guitar noise of the ’90s grunge era. If you know the arc of J. Mascis’ song-writing, then you know the songs they’re playing on this tour, like ‘The Post’ and ‘Repulsion,’ are very different from the more even-tempered college rock of albums like ‘Green Mind’ and ‘Where You Been.’ Even if you are only familiar with the post-Barlow releases, you’ll still enjoy the indie-pop harmonizing of ‘Little Fury Things’ from the album ‘You’re Living All Over Me,’ and you’ll get lost in the epic distortion of the last song of the set, ‘Sludgefeast.’ Seeming like the trio had never been estranged all those years, the performance was tight, brisk and vigorous.

    Clap hard enough and you’ll be guaranteed a double encore, but the first song they replied to applause with was surprising: a shrunken, crusted-over cover of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven.’ The sold-out crowd loved the wit and humor of this off-kilter choice; in fact, the crowd loved it all, though they were visibly divided between ‘old’ fans and ‘new’ fans. The audience knew that this would be all they got of Dinosaur Jr., since it’s a reunion tour after all. With no promise of new material to be released in the future, the fans lapped up the extended plays of the 12 songs that made up the initial set and understood the finality of ‘Chunks,’ the final song of the final encore.

    If you love their early stuff, you’ll love this show. Get the three newly re-mastered albums before you go.

    -Valaer Murray

    #111780
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    lookitssam
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    "King Tubby" wrote:
    Best among Mascis’ terse comments was when he mentioned that the last time they had played D.C. was at the old location of the 9:30 Club, where the size of the rats are still legendary around the city.

    Lou said that. Silly reviewer guy.

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