With Jon Spencer’s Blues Explosion rocking out last night and Dinosaur Jr cranking it up to 11 tonight, it’s been a rough couple of days for the eardrums. J. Mascis and co. put their heads down and barrelled through sixteen tunes keeping a wash of sound going for a good ninety minutes.
Surprisingly, the Dinosaur Jr reunion seems to be flourishing. Mascis, along with drummer Murph and bass player Lou Barlow released an excellent album of new material last year called I Bet On Sky and that album formed the foundation for the set they played tonight.
The trio took the stage at about 9:50. The silver-haired Mascis shuffled on as though he was heading out to another day at the office. Lou Barlow, with his shock of long, black frizzy hair was full of nervous energy, bouncing around his side of the stage. Murph, sporting no hair at all, was planted centre stage between Mascis and Barlow.
The Powerstation looked to be full to the rafters and Dinosaur Jr treated the crowd to The Lung, a rather melodic track from their 1987 album You’re All Over Me.
After the tune, Murph got up briefly to talk to the sound man and fiddled around with his drum kit. Then came the first of four songs from I Bet On Sky, Almost Fare.
Before they launched into The Wagon, Barlow took to banging the neck of his bass on his mic stand…must have been that nervous energy. The fans reacted well to The Wagon…there was plenty of head-bobbing going on.
One thing that became apparent, and somewhat annoying, was the Mascis seemed obsessed with tuning his guitar at length after every song. In order to make the wait less tedious the other two musicians jammed while Mascis tuned.
J Mascis took one of his more stunning solos near the end of Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know. Unfortunately his vocals, which are usually mumbled anyway, were virtually inaudible in the mix.
After Watch The Corners, Murph was still adjusting his drums and Mascis busied himself with more tuning. There was very little interaction with the crowd or with each other.
Finally, after Crumble, someone yelled out in frustration, “Show us some appreciation!”
Barlow responded (while Mascis was yet again tuning), “Thank you Auckland, we appreciate you,” before noting their “enormous backdrop” that he compared to, “a giant’s blanket”.
Lou then sang one of his contributions to the new album, the poppy Rude. Lou’s vocals turned out to be as hard to hear as J’s.
By the time they got to Out There, a small, but enthusiastic mosh pit had formed near the front of the stage. Soon there would be some good old fashion nineties-style crowd surfing going on.
But some of the audience seemed to be growing restless thanks to the constant tuning and lack of stage chatter.
But that’s not why you go to see Dinosaur Jr. You go to hear J Mascis play his guitar. And by the end of the regular set, he was really ripping into it.
The band returned to perform The Cure’s Just Like Heaven and then Mascis finished the evening with more guitar heroics on Sludgefeast.
It was a strange evening with the mood changing from excitement to boredom more than once, but in the end it seemed that most of the crowd got what they wanted. Although when I left the Powerstation, one fan did complain that they didn’t do Little Furry Things. Oh well, you can’t please everyone.
Dinosaur Jr set list:
- The Lung
- Almost Fare
- The Wagon
- Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know
- Watch The Corners
- Out There
- Feel The Pain
- Pond Song
- Training Ground
- Start Choppin’
- Freak Scene
- Forget The Swan
- Just Like Heaven