Monday, June 4, 2007

Dinosaur Jr. w/ Awesome Color @ The Abbey Pub

J Mascis is inhuman. He is able to play his guitar at a level beyond anything I’ve heard from anyone else. The amazing thing about it how each one of those riffs and fits perfectly within the song. If you’re not paying attention to him, you wouldn’t notice that it’s a guitar solo. But he’s amazing. His hands are gigantic, which perhaps is why he’s able to effortlessly pump out these solos. Of course, J carries a mellow demeanor at all times, whether he’s wailing on his guitar, singing with eyes closed, or making fun of the audience. More on that in a minute. As expected, the show was absolutely loud as hell. A number of people who were standing close to the stage had to move back because they were not wearing earplugs. Even with plugs in for the entire time, my ears were ringing afterwards. Of all the bands I’ve seen, only Pinebender beats them in terms of volume. It’s pretty clear that even though this is the “reunion” of Dinosaur Jr., this is still J’s band. I spent a lot of time casually observing the roles and personalities within the group. Not only does J ignore the audience as he’s playing, he doesn’t acknowledge Murph or Lou, either. Murph seems to be in touch with what Lou is doing to a certain degree and will glance at the audience on occasion, but he generally keeps to himself as well. Lou, however, spends much of the show either watching J for subtle cues or checking out what’s going on in front of the stage. He gave a few smirks at times if he saw something amusing, and definitely seems to garner a feel for what the audience reaction is. For all the animosity that went down when the band originally kicked him out, he seems to have a really good time up there. Perhaps that’s part of getting older.Even though they have put out eight albums, I didn’t remember quite how robust their catalogue is. Nearly every release has superb tracks that could be played at any show. In fact, they could have played a 1.5 hour set with an entirely different set of songs, and I don’t think anyone would have come away disappointed. At Lollapalooza two summers ago, they didn’t play any songs from the sans Lou Barlow era. I figured that would be the case again, but we were treated to a couple. Out There was the night’s high point – it seemed the entire crowd lost control at least a little bit. Some bands go for verbal banter between songs, but generally J would play a little ditty as the rest of the band would ready themselves for the next track. Again, he’s very laid back and unassuming. But it was an incredibly impressive performance. If you get the chance to see J perform, go do it. Just remember the earplugs.There were some extremely bad elements in the audience. We were standing close to the stage, so perhaps farther back there were no issues, but near us, there were all kinds of problems. One man decided he was going to try to start hisself a mosh pit. Last week I defended moshing, but this was not appropriate. The dude was going around the crowd punching and hitting people. Some gave him dirty looks. Others punched back, but it was clear that no one was enjoying it. However, he only tried this for one song. Other people managed to disrupt the entire concert. Immediately before the band took the stage, a guy who had to be roughly 280 pounds and his also-not-lean girlfriend decided they would trudge up near the front of the audience. If you weigh 280 pounds and you want to be close to the stage, you should get your ass up there more than five minutes before the headlining act. The large couple proceeded to fight with one another for the entire first song. His next move was to get in an altercation with the waitress, taking her tray and looking every bit like he was going to smash it over her head. After the second song, he and another man who earlier identified himself to me as “Moose” unrelentingly chanted that they wanted to hear “Chunks”. Lou Barlow actually picked up his setlist and showed them that it would be the last song of the night. I have never seen a band do this before. But they really did everyone a favor. Then an overly patient gentleman took the time to explain to Fatso what had just happened and that they would indeed play Chunks and it would be the last song of the night. Then he explained it two more times and the guy finally understood. Fatso and Moose proceeded to shove people who were at the front of the stage back so they could have that position. I was shocked a fight did not break out. Had they tried that with me, I would have gladly gotten myself tossed punching each of them in the face. Then Fatso purchased a Miller Lite and insisted on giving it to the band. J said, “I don’t drink. Murph will drink it.” Murph and Lou both declined. So now this man had not only ruined the show for those around him, but bothered the band and wasted the time of everyone in attendance. At least Fatso got a reaction. At some point in the night, every member of the "reunited original lineup of Dinosaur Jr." shook their head at him with disdain and pity. He can tell his grandkids about it if his obese girlfriend hasn’t dumped him. Finally, when the band was playing their last song of the night, the aforementioned Chunks, Moose decided to climb up on stage and sing with the band. It looked like he was going to get a face full of Barlow’s bass, but a bouncer got up and dragged him offstage in a couple seconds. Fatso tried three times to climb up on the 2.5 foot stage, but failed to get his girth over the ledge every time.

Sorry to go on and on about this, but these dudes were a real problem. I’m sure I’m not the only one who thought so. I’m just glad they didn’t touch me because I’m sure I would have gotten physically aggressive. Perhaps they were picking their battles. I was working on a posting about “the ten most annoying people to be near you at a show”, but Fatso blew away anything I had experienced before. Based on all the things he did, he could fill spots 1-5, 7, 9, and 10.

Opener Awesome Color started off pretty well, with pounding drums and some impressive guitar thumping. However, each of their songs was about four minutes too long. They played nearly an hour, but only six songs. There was a ton of onstage banter which, after a point, didn’t go over very well. I likened their performance to a Monster Truck Rally. Big and aggressive and bulky – fun for about ten or fifteen minutes, but then all the cars have already been crushed and there’s not much else to do. Maybe they should change their name to Bigfoot. But look! Bassist Derek Stanton wore a shirt that (thanks to a perfectly positioned strap) says OWR. He’s my new OWR mascot, folks. Please revere him appropriately…
Finally, a gigantic thanks to my friends EZ and Sergio Da Ho for hooking me up with tickets.

Almost Ready
Back to Your Heart
In a Jar
Been There All the Time (not totally sure about this one)
Pick Me Up
Out There
This is All I Came to Do
Feel the Pain
Little Furry Things
Bulbs of Passion
Freak Scene

More photos:


Anonymous said...

Yeah! That was an awesome show.

First off, it's been a busy day and here I see by the time I get to writing my comments, you've already posted some new things. You need to make us work harder and hold off on the new posts until you get some decent comments. :-)

I knew from seeing Dino at lollapalooza a few years ago, and also when I saw them in Manchester, about a year ago, that they are back and playing well with lou and murph. However, at lolla it was 110 degrees in the afternoon sun and I was probably hallucinating from the heat. Both those shows I was pretty far away and appreciating the music but watching from a distance. At the Abbey Pub, it is more intimate, and it made me more aware of the individual personalities and their whole dynamic as you describe. It makes you want to psychoanalyze the band. The whole time I was kind of hoping they would manage to get along and get play a good set without getting in a fight. You should check out our band could be your life by Michael Azarad if you have not read it. The chapter on Dinosaur Jr. describes the clashing personalities in the band and how one show ended after a few minutes with Lou chasing J offstage trying to hit him with his bass. They seem to be doing better now. J and lou are just sensitive guys. And Murph is just easy going and does his thing.

J is always so serious, which is funny because his singing and singwriting seem very deliberately ironic in certain ways. It's like he may not even be aware of some of his own appeal. It's hard to tell if it's the persona or just the person.

They played great music too. "feel the pain" sounded better than it had before. I never liked the song all that much until this show. It was cool to hear the original band members playing the later dino material.

Good times!

Anonymous said...

Great post! ez and I saw them last night in San Antonio OPENING for The Black Keys. One can speculate forever about why on earth they would open for another band, but the best I could come up with is that The Keys have a very young following and Dino is trying to get with the kids again (not a bad plan).

The energy was good although we appeared to be the only "lifers" in the audience. The setlist was a scaled down version of what was posted for Abby Pub, with Feel the Pain being a highlight (no Out There).

Once again, Fighting the Youth gets it right. It's all a solid catalog and it wouldn't have mattered what they played. I kind of like J's post-original stuff with the original band just to see what they do with it. Wish I was in Chicago, 'cause Out There sounds like it would be awesome.

Kudos on the awesome writeup of front row hilarity. Seems like more of a case of rock n' roll spontaneity than an annoyance, but yeah, I can see how it could leave an impression. The offer of beer to J and him pawnin it off on Murph is just the icing on a crazy cake. Again, wish I was there...
peace booyyz