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    here’s a review of the gig in Cincinnati on 10/19/02:

    Cincinnati Enquirer

    …an 80-minute, 20-song solo performance that bridged the gap between folk and metal.

    full article:

    Monday, October 21, 2002
    Mascis makes guitar zing

    By Chris Varias
    The Cincinnati Enquirer

    J Mascis’ way of turning a down-in-the-mouth phrase put him at home in alternative rock, a genre overpopulated with sad-sack singers who write woe-is-me songs.

    However, it was never fashionable to be an alt-rocker who wails on guitar like a classic-rock axe-slinger of the first order, but Mr. Mascis has always made it work. No band sounds like Mr. Mascis’ former group Dinosaur Jr., and he stands as the premier alt-rock guitar soloist of his generation.

    Some of that thunderous playing was on display at Top Cat’s Saturday, as Mr. Mascis put on an 80-minute, 20-song solo performance that bridged the gap between folk and metal.

    Much of the show was just him, his chair, and his acoustic guitar. This afforded the crowd of about 300 the opportunity to clearly hear and sing along with lines like, "There never really is a good time, there’s always nothing much to say" – lyrics (these happen to be from the song "Thumb") that are as much a part of the fabric of ’90s alt-rock as Nirvana’s or anyone else’s.

    Mr. Mascis plucked songs from all over his catalog. The show opened with the quiet "Someone Said" from Free So Free, his solo album released Oct. 8. The hushed vibe didn’t last long, as he was soon into Dinosaur Jr.’s "What Else is New." With the help of pedals he recreated the recording’s fuzzed-out solos on his acoustic guitar while a loop of the strummed rhythm track carried forth.

    "Any requests?" he said afterwards, and that’s about all he said all night. Perhaps he listened to the screams, because he proceeded with two Dinosaur favorites, "The Wagon" and "Repulsion."

    Toward the end of the night he was joined by two members of Cobra Verde, one of the warm-up bands. With John Petkovic on bass and Mark Klein on drums, Mr. Mascis upgraded to electric guitar for three songs, including "Ammaring" – which featured a trance-inducing, five-minute, guitar-zan solo – and "Freak Scene."

    The local group Thistle, the opening act, is similar to Dinosaur Jr. insomuch as they’re a trio with an extra-large guitar sound. Thistle’s approach, however, is a bit tighter than Mr. Mascis’ somewhat sloppy aesthetic. Their set included a few songs from the band’s two EPs plus many others from a full-length album due early next year.



    live review of the gig in Milwaukee, Wisconsin (Oct., 21st)

    Ex-Dinosaur Jr. frontman Mascis dons indie-rock hat
    Vocalist, guitarist covers his career in solo set
    [email protected]
    Last Updated: Oct. 22, 2002
    "Grunge successor."

    "Alt-rock precursor."

    "The original slacker."

    Those are a few of the better-fitting hats that could be worn by former Dinosaur Jr. vocalist and guitarist J. Mascis, who performed solo at Shank Hall on Monday night before an audience of about 150.

    But perhaps "indie-rock stand-up" is the tag that best describes Mascis’ style as a performer.

    Whether singing emotively whiny, self-reflective lyrics, or alternating his soft electro-acoustic guitar strums with the flick of a foot-pedal switch into distorted lead-guitar lines, Mascis comes off like the Steven Wright of rockers: There’s a stark timing and contrast to his alternating from folky strummer to manic rocker that’s slightly comical and probably intended.

    The set covered the range of Mascis’ career, from his years as the front for Dinosaur Jr., an obscure but influential East Coast outfit that covered the gap between grunge and alt-rock – the band’s signature tune "Feel the Pain" became, along with Beck’s "Loser," a defining anthem that epitomized the early-’90s alt-rock term "slacker" – to later songs from Mascis’ solo vessel, the Fog, which continued Dinosaur’s penchant for mixing slackerly strums with manic, hard-punk guitar bursts.

    Mascis performed seated at a stool at center stage, a single spotlight beaming down on his sharply featured face, plastic-frame glasses and matted hair flowing halfway down his back.

    On most songs, Mascis tied together the strums and leads with lyrics delivered in an emotional yet almost mechanically steady whine, a sort of Neil-Young-on-lithium drone.

    The Dinosaur Jr. ditties "Thumb," " Wagon" and "What Else Is New" perfectly fit the solo format, their pensive and faintly solitary vibe exaggerated by Mascis’ slacker-blues wail and faintly country-folk picks and strums.

    Between songs, Mascis offered a quick "thanks" in hoarse whispers, keeping his head tilted slightly downward and directly toward the audience.

    After performing for about an hour and 15 minutes, Mascis mumbled a "thanks for coming" and left the stage. A few minutes later, he returned for two more numbers – one a Dinosaur Jr. tune, the other from his new album, "Free So Free."

    A version of this story appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Oct. 23, 2002.

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