Dinosaur Jr. blasts back from the past in ear-ringing reunion
By TRAVIS HAY
SPECIAL TO THE POST-INTELLIGENCER
From classic alternative radio to VH1’s "I Love the 90s," nostalgia has been running high for Generation X as of late, and one of the trendier nostalgic moves for a 1990s rock band to make has been to go on a reunion tour.
It started with last year’s massively successful Pixies reunion tour, which found the band playing sold-out arenas and headlining the musically trendsetting Coachella Festival as well as last year’s Bumbershoot. Now, if Grand Pumpkin Billy Corgan gets his way, the Smashing Pumpkins may be hitting the road again too.
But before fans get excited to hear Corgan once again declare the world a vampire, an unlikely prehistoric alt-rock giant has decided to plug in its guitars and revisit the glory days: Dinosaur Jr.
The original Dinosaur Jr lineup — guitarist J Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph — dissolved after Barlow and Mascis had several heated ego clashes and Barlow left the band. Mascis carried on the Dinosaur Jr name and found small commercial success while Barlow went on to front the influential group Sebadoh.
Now the trio has re-formed and the sonic intensity of Saturday night’s performance at the Showbox makes one wonder why they broke up in the first place. From Barlow’s sluggish bass on "Sludgefest" to Mascis’ many effects-laden solos on songs such as "Kracked" and "Little Furry Things," the three Dinos created a sound that can be described only as Jurassic.
The volume was up so high that at times Mascis’ vocals couldn’t be heard, but that didn’t matter, because it was loud and it sounded oh so good. Despite the loudness, the crowd ate up every Mascis guitar part and Barlow scream and relished the opportunity to relive the days of yesteryear when "Singles" was in theaters and Seattle seemed like the center of the universe. For most of Dinosaur Jr’s 75-minute set, it felt like the Emerald City was still the crown jewel of the musical landscape.
After the show, fans filed out of the Showbox holding their ears in an attempt to adjust their hearing back to normal after Dinosaur Jr’s bombastic aural assault.
But if ears are going to be ringing, it might as well be from a spectacular jam-filled "Forget the Swan" and not from a carbon-copied live version of "1979."
Travis Hay is a freelance journalist in Seattle. He can be reached at [email protected].