I'm standing outside the Garrick Theatre, waiting for the doors to open to this rush seating event, when some dude walks by and hands me 4" x 5" flyer for a Dinosaur Jr. DVD. Moments later, another dude walks by with a same sized flyer promoting the new record store on Garrick, War On Music, in which it says "Large corporate music retailers put local stores out of business. Take your business elsewhere." Nice timing. The second dude's flyer elicited some good laughs from the crowd.
Opener Lou Barlow was a real treat. He's the bass player with Dinosaur Jr., but he played poignant pop love songs with just his voice and acoustic guitar and it worked really well. Prior to taking the stage, he and his wife and baby were sitting behind me in the upper level but no one noticed him. Or if they did, no one approached him.
The second opening act, a power trio from Dearborn, Michigan by the name of Awesome Color (I think), were very intense. Just when you thought you saw it all, they played even faster. How many arms did the drummer have? She lashed out with ferocious beats that simply did not let up. The guitarist/ singer was a cut above the average guitar player and almost recalled moments of Stevie Ray Vaughn, if you can believe it. They were raw, fast, and loud but despite all this, there was still a huge crowd of people in the foyer, drinking down the moments until the legendary Dinosaur Jr. took to the stage.
J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Murph the drummer played for about 75 minutes before taking a rest and returning for a 2 song encore, which included "Freak Show," one of their best known songs. At times, Mascis, a master of distortion, sounded like a thousand heavy guitarists all taking flight simultaneously. To some, it's noise. To many, myself included, it was glorious. Mascis spent almost 10 minutes tweaking his sound gear prior to getting the show underway and returned to fine tuning a few more times.
Dinosaur Jr. were seen as an influential band back when Nirvana and the Pixies were the darlings of the alternative rock scene. J Mascis is an extraordinary talent and overall, the band's pop songs were a joy to listen to. Mascis extremely heavy sound owes more to the free spirit of punk than it does to overly serious heavy metal and so the show was fun more than anything else. Just one fan managed to dance a bit on stage as Mascis was looking at the stage floor, before diving off into the crowd. Towards the end of the second band's set, the guitarist lowered his guitar into the crowd to have a fan play along. The guitar made its way to 2 or 3 people and there appeared to be some squabble that was quickly extinguished.
This was an intense, fun show. Will these guys keep on touring and recording? I think that depends on how well their new material is received and how well it sells. Surely, they don't want to become just a nostalgia band, because that is a sure sign that you are washed up. If you've heard about them but haven't seen them, take a chance and go. Just bring earplugs.