Thursday, October 25, 2012

Dinosaur Jr in Pittsburgh

Playing right now: AZITA - Disturbing the Air
(I'm interviewing Azita tonight so I've been trying to go back and listen to all of her albums again.)

J. Mascis alone has more amps than my whole band combined, times two. Three sets of double-stacked Marshalls, which are taller than him. And Lou Barlow has almost as much so that he can keep up. (He had to jump up to tweak the volume settings.)

Last night, Dinosaur Jr. played at Mr. Small's and I got to see the trio for the first time ever. I've always been a little more of a Sebadoh fan, and only own one Dinosaur Jr record (the first one), although I think I have a promo of Without a Sound, which I seem to remember reviewing. But I've always liked them, and my friend Megan talked me into it.

As usual, Smalls was crowded with a flock of socially inept and occasionally graceful fans, bumping and shoving past one another. Two friends from work (both named Megan) met me there and we managed to stand in a few different places among the sea of bodies. Honestly the band's sound was so huge that it felt like Surround-sound after a few songs and I felt like I didn't really need to see them onstage. It felt like I could already see the music. Everything about J Mascis's guitar playing is true. He was truly amazing, spinning out a solo in the first song that sounded like Neil Young with a greater musical vocabulary. His battery of effects gave him a sound that felt more psychedelic than anyone else who ever gets that adjective thrown at them.

But I was rather shocked that Mascis used a capo at least once during the evening. Nothing against capos. Some people get a lot of good mileage out of them. But I never thought this guy would need one. I guess we all have our secret artillery.

Most of the song titles were lost on me, as I don't have any of the reunited albums. After awhile I just decided it wasn't important to try and keep track with the hope of eventually finding out the name of the one "like 'Down by the River' and last song on first album.'" Better to simply revel in what they're doing.

Surprises: the proper set ended with my jam from the first album, "Forget the Swan." That song still takes me back to Summer 1985 when I felt like hard rock was merging with punk rock - and it was good.

*Lou Barlow plays a Rickenbacker! Just like me! And he used to look like me! OH MY...... [don't take this seriously]

*Lou was the m.c. of sorts, chatting to the audience, getting us stirred up and appreciative. Mascis might've noticed we were there. I'm not sure.

*They played a tune by Deep Wound, J and Lou's pre-Dinosaur hardcore band. It was allegedly one of their slower songs, which means it was like Minor Threat tempo and a little longer than 30 seconds.

*I knew they have been closing with their cover of "Just Like Heaven" on this tour but what I didn't realize is how Mascis would recreate the tremolo of the keyboard line first with his wah pedal and then with a tremelo effect pedal. Loose but impressive.

PS. Murph rocked hard too. I felt like he should get some mention. When we were standing right up front the thud of the drums coming through the floor speaker could've knocked a weak person over.

PPS Thanks to Smalls' for giving out free earplugs. I found an old pair in my sock drawer but the new ones were better.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

i'd love to see them someday before they dissappear again from the scene; dinosaur, w/out the 'jr', as it was written 1rst on their eponymous debut back in the days (still own my original homestead hms 015 vinyl!!!) will always be one of my esteemed bands from that prehistoric era... yeah, it was kool, oh, and the smiths were -still- a band... peace, luis rafael