Concert Sutra & Dinosaur Jr, Going Back In Time
written by terri sapp
photographs by terri sapp
© Concert Sutra, All Rights Reserved
When I was just a wee lass, fresh out of Brunswick High School in the Summer of 1993, a friend of mine and I were fortunate enough to make it down into the great state of Florida for this little tour called Lollapalooza. We were outside in the hot Orlando sun, and loving it! This day was a very special day for me, as it would be my first live experience with many of my most revered acts such as Tool, Fishbone, Alice In Chains, Rage Against the Machine, Arrested Development, Front 242, PRIMUS, and Dinosaur Jr. Even though it was a festival, and many acts were cut short, in my opinion, I was still able to develop a deeper appreciation for the rock band in general. Ever since that day, I have made it one of my many goals to see all of the aforementioned bands live in concert as many times as possible. I lucked out on some of the groups and have been able to grab many chances with, but had to wait until 2006 for Dinosaur Jr to directly cross my path again. Fate brought me to this show, with the help of a couple of friends (Dottie Blount and Seth Weiner, THANKS GUYS!) who were able to make it happen, and I loved every loud minute of it. Not even an old friend blowing me off forever could knock me from the cloud I was on at the end of this bit of rock and roll heaven!
The original line up of J Mascis (lead vocals, guitar), Murph (drums), and Lou Barlow (bass) are back together again in true form to bring back the overwhelming sounds of Dinosaur Jr that have been missing from our lives for so many years. Their infamous chaotic, but brilliantly orchestrated, wall of sound was before its time, and gathered both criticism and praise. Nowadays, almost every hardcore band you see out there is trying to emulate the kind of raw power that Dinosaur Jr conjures with ease.
With a heavy guitar, monster bass, and kickin drums, Dinosaur Jr begins their show in Atlanta, Georgia at the Variety Playhouse on April 8, 2006 with the 1985 Dinosaur album’s “Quest.” From the first big boom, the room knew this was going to be a rock and roll show to remember. Luckily, I brought my earplugs like a responsible audience member, because I am afraid my ears would have been ringing for days after this show. Even though “Quest” is a slower song, its voltage it undeniable. On a “peppier” note, dancing surely ensued upon arrival of the “Wagon.” This bitter sweet love song from the 1991 Green Mind album has the stuff to keep the crowd moving. “Gargoyle” shows, for sure, J Mascis as a dedicated guitar man, with solos to match! These guys are really in constant motion. To see them live, you have to be ready to move as well. “Bulbs of Passion” starts out like you think you are going to lullaby land, and then hits you in the face with major bass. Murph is not playing around, most of the time.
“The Lung” is another guitar solo heavy number with a side of bass and drums for that ass. “The Leper” from the Dinosaur album, follows along the same hard path, with Mascis, Murph, and Barlow pumping it out in unison. The love is in the air, and Mascis wishes us a happy Saturday night before crawling up with “Little Fury Things.” Musically, “Fury” is melodic and sweet. I guess that is bound to happen when singing a song about a rabbit! A major thing I appreciate about Dinosaur Jr is that they don’t jam on and on with their notorious guitar type solos and they keep their songs relatively short and sweet. They were obviously before the swarming of the “jam bands.” The bass begins a bouncing beat for J Mascis to sing to on “Forget the Swan,” another from the Dinosaur album. At times in this particular show, the music was so loud that the vocals were drowned out. Luckily for me, I knew the songs already. Otherwise I may have had a hard time distinguishing one lyric from another!
“Lose” demonstrates the mix of aggressive music playing with such philosophic words. Even though the words seem to take a back seat at the live performance, they are still there fueling the fire behind this powerhouse trio. Also from You’re Living All Over Me (Bonus Videos), “Raisins” couldn’t come at a better time in the show. I absolutely love this song. Whoever inspired this little ditty must have been pulled through the mud by someone, “She ripped my heart out and gave it to me…I know what you did to me. I know what you did was wrong. You’re allowed to torture me, wait a minute until I’m gone…I’ll be down, I’ll be around. I’ll be hanging where eventually you’ll have to be. I’ll just stare and hope you’ll care…Now you’ll have to decide the fate of my sanity.” Classic. Mascis wails on the guitar solo with a vengeance. Another gem from Little Fury Things, “In A Jar” tells another story of love and loss. Somewhere along the way, I’m guessing the Dinosaur was heartbroken to say the least. Quick and dirty is a great way to describe a standard Dinosaur Jr song. “Sludgefest” is a perfect example, with extremely grungy chords and gritty sound, Mascis, Murph, and Barlow rock hard. “I’m waiting, please come back. I’ve got the guts now to meet your eye. Those guts are killing but I can’t stop now. Got to connect with you girl before I forget how.” Even though they “jammed” this one out, it was still only a few minutes. See, it is possible to “jam” without it turning into a twenty minute song! I wish more bands would take that formula and run with it.
Ready for an encore, the masses call for more. With great ease, Dinosaur Jr came back out for an extended encore jam. “The Post” from Bug ties together this theme they seem to have going on with lost love songs. Ironically, they are not all about the girl doing the losing. “She’s my post to lean on, and I just cut her down. So I’m out to land on somethin’. Hopefully a girl will come to me at the ground.” I think this is one of their most “mellow” songs, and it still rocks hard. Straight from one to another from Bug, “Freak Scene” really showcases Murph’s drumming abilities! This guy is a beast on the kit. Just when we thought we were going home without a cover song, those wonderful notes ring out, and the crowd goes wild. Anyone who was alive in the late eighties, early nineties (even now, still) knows that famous guitar intro. Dinosaur Jr has been covering “Just Like Heaven,” from the Cure’s 1987 release, Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me,” for a very long time. They definitely put their own style and charm to it without losing the original allure. Dinosaur is not, by any stretch of the imagination, a pop band, so one has to expect that they will punk out even the catchiest “alternative” tunes. Wanting more, everyone screams out trying for a few more rowdy moments with this legendary hardcore band. Instead, we were handed a “Twin Peaks” moment. Maybe my favorite of the night, “Chunks” sent me on my way with a flashback kinda smile. The drums pound out a nightmarish hallucinatory pulse, accompanied by a freaky underworld vocal effect, mixed with spaced out, dreamlike guitar and bass work. “Chunks” should, no doubt, end up on a David Lynch soundtrack one day!
I attended this show out of love for the band, but did not expect to be able to cover it for this column. By the time I heard about it, there was no room for me on the photo list to bring in my fancy “photographer’s assistant” equipment. However, I did make sure to have in tow my handy little Canon PowerShot A520 (as I always do). Much to our surprise, (with no flash, of course) some of the shots aren’t half bad. The blur was inevitable, because of the non-stop movement, but turned out to be quite interesting visually. Leah has proclaimed her love for the shot posted here of J Mascis as her favorite picture I ever took, and it was just a simple little 4 mega pixel Canon doing the work! Big UPS to my little baby, we’re a great team, and I love ya! To view the photo gallery of the pictures I took at Dinosaur Jr, hosted by Leah Yetter, Photographer, go to http://www.concertsutra.com/dinojr0406/.
Believe me when I tell you that no ear in the Variety Playhouse went untouched by Dinosaur Jr. Luckily for us fans, these guys are still on schedule for more shows, in addition to Rhino Records deciding to reissue the albums Green Mind and Where You Been. To catch Dinosaur Jr this year, so far, you will need to attend the Osheaga: Festival Musique et Arts in Montreal; or the ATP’s “Nightmare Before Christmas” festival in the UK. Now, I know that they aren’t on the books for any local shows as of right now, but they are playing the festivals with their old touring buddies from back in the day, Sonic Youth, so it should be worth the trip! Better get to planning! For more information on the band and for possible updates on the touring status, visit http://www.dinosaurjr.com/. Also, check out bassist Lou Barlow’s (formerly also with the indie rock band, “Sebadoh”) site http://www.loobiecore.com/. He has made his way into being my favorite band member by merely loving animals as much as he does. I am working on a kitty picture to send to him! You can also check all things Dinosaur Jr by popping by http://www.jmascis.com/. Mascis has many projects under his belt, but always keeps his fans posted on any new happenings involving the Dinosaur Jr guys. This show was everything I could have expected and more. For the record, I feel now that seeing them in a small venue, as opposed to in an open field, is more conducive to really understanding the energy that is Dinosaur Jr.