August 25, 2005 at 6:13 am #48395
Gotta love that whole sinister drawl thing on J’s vocals…
August 15, 2005
Famously fractious Dinosaur Jr. returns with a bang
By Spencer Patterson <spencer>
LAS VEGAS SUN
Who: Dinosaur Jr.
Where: House of Blues at Mandalay Bay.
Rating (out of 5 stars): **** 1/2
Of all the reunited, underground rock gods I’ve seen perform over the past few years — the Stooges, Gang of Four, Mission of Burma, the Pixies, Slint — the one I never expected to behold on a stage was the original Dinosaur Jr.
Well-circulated stories of the trio’s hostile 1989 split created enduring indie legend and, judging from recent interviews, all the tales were true.
Guitarist J Mascis really did inform bassist Lou Barlow he was disbanding Dino Jr., only to re-create the group the next day with another man in Barlow’s spot.
Barlow really did write many of lo-fi outfit Sebadoh’s early tunes as caustic attacks on Mascis.
And drummer Emmett Jefferson "Murph" Murphy III really did play the role of middle man in the dysfunctional family, passing angry messages from Mascis to Barlow and vice versa.
So what would possess the three musicians to team again for a single show, to say nothing of the months of heavy touring Dinosaur Jr. has lined up since reuniting in April?
A skeptic might say it’s the money, but Mascis, Barlow and Murph have accomplished enough post-Dino not to be hurting in that area.
More likely, as Mascis explained to the Boston Globe last month, Dino ended its extinction out of a simple desire to play loud again.
The trio certainly fulfilled that wish Saturday night at the House of Blues at Mandalay Bay, bombarding a reverent crowd of about 650 with its brand of noisy, high-decibel rock.
Along for the ride were Denver garage-punk outfit the Omens and Los Angeles-based, indie-rock trio alaska!
The latter, which includes members with ties to post-Dino Barlow projects Sebadoh and Folk Implosion, was the more memorable of the two, blending jagged post-punk and moody post-rock compositions during its 30-minute set.
But really, the support acts hardly mattered to most of the twenty- and thirty-somethings gathered on the venue’s lower level. They were there to have their ears blown out by Massachusetts’ finest, and Dinosaur Jr. didn’t let them down.
Setting an immediately dark and foreboding mood with creepy opener "The Post," the headliners sounded even more potent than they did in their ’80s prime, seeming far more relevant than retro.
Barlow’s melodic basslines and Murph’s unwavering drumming propelled Dino’s tight yet deliciously messy cacophony, to which Mascis added his underrecognized, feedback-laced guitar work.
Appearing devilish as ever under dim stage lighting, the long-gray-haired frontman tettered between ultra-heavy and silvery sweet during several long solos, the most notable of which came midway through "Kracked," a cut off 1987 masterwork "You’re Living All Over Me."
During one break for tuning, Barlow explained that Mascis was feeling ill after a long flight from Oslo, Norway, to Las Vegas. If anything, that only served to augment Mascis’ vocals, adding a crackling quality to his already sinister drawl.
Dinosaur Jr. only seemed to get louder as the night wore on. By the time they closed with best-known single "Freak Scene" and the epic "Sludgefeast" and returned for an encore that included mosh-enducing number "The Lung," it felt as if the bottles behind the bars might shatter from the racket.
I could nitpick a bit, about the duration of the set (70 minutes) or the set list, which included five tracks from the band’s underdeveloped self-titled debut and only two from 1988 classic "Bug."
But overall, just seeing Mascis and Barlow standing 15 feet apart, playing thundering riffs together after a decade and a half apart was more than enough to make me smile.
Now that that’s out of the way, what are the odds we’ll see Yoko Ono up there with Paul McCartney come November?August 25, 2005 at 10:09 am #112244
I was at that show and it wasn’t as loud as he says it was but it was good. The songs from the 1st album sounded cool. It was too short IMO at 70 minutes. I was glad to see them and hope they keep touring so I can see them again.
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