Dinosaur Jr - Forum - Wednesday 8th June
Michael Azerrad describes a meeting between Lou Barlow (then ex bass player of Dinosaur Jr) and J Mascis (ongoing guitar player of Dinosaur Jr). Barlow had been sacked in the most insalubrious of circumstances; more or less the band (J and drummer Murph) had gone on tour without telling him, and a little band from outside of Seattle had just released an album called Nevermind. Barlow shouted at Mascis:
They fucking beat you to it! You could have done it, you asshole, we could have fucking done it!
And they could have. They should have.
For the sake of brevity Dinosaur Jr's failure to bring the world to it's knees has much to do with Mascis's lack of drive for the band, and his innate inability to communicate with other human beings, a trait that drove a rift so deep between the two that it could never be healed...
It's no surprise then that Lou Barlow looks pretty bloody pleased with himself, standing on the stage of the Forum tonight. Kurt is dead and Dave and Krist have spent the last ten years exorcising the demons of their past. The fact that Lou, J and Murph are not only back onstage together but seemingly enjoying themselves can be considered a major triumph. So in the spirit of such a celebratory occasion Londonist will attempt to describe a random moment from tonight's show in a phoenetic manner. It goes something like this:
As a friend said after: Hearing's for pussies!
Things not to expect from a Dinosaur Jr show: movement, conversation, glitter balls.
Things to expect from a Dinosaur Jr show: awesome rock music played at a volume that will alter your genetic make up.
Things to expect from a Dinosaur Jr reunion show: the very real possibility of an utter disaster.
The reality of this Dinosaur Jr show: awesome rock music played at a volume that will alter your genetic make up, no disasters whatsoever.
They may not have shared a stage together for nigh on fifteeen years but it does not show. All three look relaxed, and as we said, even happy. Well as happy as Mascis ever looks, hidden behind a face of long lank hair. There's a brief Thank you for coming somewhere in there but otherwise it's down to the business of wrenching gargantuan classic rock riffs and intricate melodies through layers of effects that scream, howl, distort and feeedback. It's country goth alternative hardcore punk metal and the intensity often masks the stunning playing going on. He hunches over his guitar, breaking the odd string, as spectral a figure as ever there was. His reed thin drawl still makes Neil Young sound positively hyperactive. Barlow on the other hand looks fit and well and someone's obviously forgotten to tell him that he's back on bass, the way he crashes chords out, matching Mascis with every ounce of power. He's also on good voice too screaming out the intro to Little Furry Things like a posessed Banshee. Behind them Murph punishes his drums for their very existence. Each time he kicks the bass drum we genuinely feel as if we might have lost a year of our life as a result of the sheer force of it.
And that's what a Dinosaur Jr show boils down to. A boneshaking whirlwind of volume and power. The floor shakes. The toilet cubicles at the back of the venue shake. This is a show that could be measured on the Richter scale. It is a joy to behold and terrifying to experience. If it had gone on any longer we may well not have lived to tell the tale. The set is of course pulled from their recently re-released first three albums and we're buggered if we can remember many of the song titles (a problem we've always had with DJ). There's In A Jar, their wonderful cover of The Cure's Just Like Heaven and of course Freakscene, the song that more or less created, defined, and laid to waste Grunge.
Good money would have said that there was no way this reunion was going to work and yet it does. Their faces may not adorn successive generations of disaffected teen's t-shirts but their home in the pantheon of the great American rock bands is surely safe now. They deserve this moment of glory and we for one were very happy to have shared it with them. They play the Forum again tonight (and Download this weekend). And then, who knows. We may never see them again. If you in any way love guitars, rock music, loud music, have any interest in American indie rock of the eighties and nineties, or British guitar bands such as Primal Scream (Bobbie and Mani are here) or My Bloody Valentine, or even if you just own a Nirvana album and you can get hold of tickets (it is sold out) you should get yourselves down there. You may not hear straight for a couple of days but you will not regret it.