|Review: Dinosaur Jr.
The sonic squall of a Dinosaur Jr. show is not for the faint, the meek, or the mildly curious.
Ferocious as a fistfight, this Amherst-based trio led by ringleader, vocalist, guitarist and songcraft mastermind J Mascis, along with prodigal bassist Lou Barlow, who recently returned to the fold after leaving in 1989, and the piston-armed drumming power plant known simply as Murph, cold-cocked a largely sold-out Crystal Ballroom Thursday night. For those who've had their lip bloodied in the schoolyard of power-chord rock and liked the taste and adrenalin rush, this band is the godhead.
Offering a healthy selection from their just released CD, "Beyond," Mascis and company proved yet again there is a place in the world for abject anger, rage and fear, and their subsequent manifestations and physical releases via the power trio. These guys have a death grip on the mainline power grid wire of electric angst.
There is nothing overly produced or staged about a Dinosaur Jr. show. The three barely spoke during the show, except for Barlow's plea that his stolen blue corduroy Banana Republic jacket be returned (which it was by the middle of the show). No flashy lights or fog machines. With barely a nod of the head, Murph hit an intro lick, and the band was off like the explosion that brought down the Trojan nuclear power plant.
Mascis knows two positions onstage - an arrhythmic twisting sway when we sings, and a hair-whipping bob when he solos. Doughy and pale as a waning moon, he tore holes in the fabric of the universe with skull-crushing rock barre chords and ear-bloodying solos. His lazy-yet-laconic whine portrays a certain world-weariness, and is the perfect compliment to his melodic yet full-bore punk sensibilities.
Barlow, a guitarist in another life, throttled his bass, hitting listeners with relentless gut punches. No nimble two-finger technique here as he served as both bassist and rhythm guitarist in furious fashion.
Murph, gleamingly chrome-domed and muscular, battered his simple drum kit with the fury of a world war. Even his noodling between songs hit beach-assault proportions.
Dino showcased new tunes "Been There All the Time," "This Is All I Came to Do," "Almost Ready," and "Back to Your Heart," among others, but also slipped in "Out There," from the stellar "Where You Been" CD.
There's no way to adequately describe just how loud a Dinosaur Jr. show is. Until you've emerged from an hour and a half full-body pummel, with sore abs, a tight neck, and that raw ear buzz which will linger for days, it's difficult to express the feeling that bone is being pulverized, that DNA helixes are untwisting, that at some subatomic level, matter is shifting.
But know this: There's a reason for it. These might be just societal outcasts, punk pariahs a little low on the self-esteem chart that want a little attention. But nobody uses loud like Dinosaur Jr. It's a tool, a weapon, a means. And not for amateurs. These guys can liquefy solid concrete.
Opening act Awesome Color thrashed its way through a mediocre set of hardcore that quickly deteriorated into senseless feedback, guitar-god posing, and lack of imagination or authentic fire. However, huge props must be paid to drummer Allison Busch, whose tiny little body was one gigantic, unrelenting drumming muscle.