Words & Images by: Bear Connelly
Built to Spill/Dinosaur Jr./Meat Puppets :: 09.27.08 :: Orpheum Theater :: Boston, MA
The Orpheum is an old theatre located in the heart of Boston. And when this triple bill came to town, that heart was pumping blood into the veins of the indie rock gods. An all-star cast of seasoned veterans held court in the storied auditorium and treated listeners to a plethora of sounds from Marshall stacks to cellos, pretty falsettos to hard rock growls.
|J Mascis - Dinosaur Jr. :: 09.27 :: Boston, MA|
The night started off promptly with the Meat Puppets, a band most famously known as the guys Nirvana brought out for their MTV Unplugged taping fifteen years ago. The newly reunited trio - original bassist Cris Kirkwood rejoined the band in 2006 after serving time in jail and getting clean - played a rousing opening set filled with songs new and old. The jammiest venture of the night came with the 20-minute "Up on the Sun" > "jam" > "Plateau," which featured a section that blended effects-laden, percussive guitar techniques with a cool panning effect by the band's sound guy. The biggest disappointment of the set was when they played a rushed, messy arrangement of "Lake of Fire" (which they performed on the previously mentioned MTV Unplugged session with Nirvana) to close. However, the song did feature a slide solo with Curt Kirkwood using a lighter in place of a slide - perhaps a nod to the song's title.
Next up was hometown heroes (well kind of, they're from Amherst) Dinosaur Jr., who greeted the crowd with a "We're from Massachusetts!" declaration before launching into "Been There All the Time." Armed with six Marshall stacks, J Mascis led possibly the loudest live band I have ever heard. I was seated in the tenth row and couldn't stuff enough tissue into my ears. Don't get me wrong, the music was great but WAY too loud. Bassist Lou Barlow was energetically hopping around the stage on songs like "Freak Scene" and "Out There," while Mascis maintained his stoic guitar stance while delivering his warbled vocals. The band played songs that spanned their entire career concluding with an amazing cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" with Mascis shredding a menacing solo that would have dropped even original Cure/Malice guitarist Marc Ceccagno's jaw.
|Built to Spill :: 09.27 :: Boston, MA|
Headlining the all-star event was Built to Spill, who continued their cross country jaunt of playing Perfect from Now On in its entirety. Playing the same tunes night in and night out seems to really have an effect on BTS's already lackluster stage presence. The band looked like they were just going through the motions until "Velvet Waltz," which they absolutely killed. Doug Martsch's high tenor crisply cut through the auditorium while delivering lines like, "In a world that's not so bad/ in a world time was killing in the sun," in a way that only he can. Despite the fact that PFNO is a landmark album, it tends to drag a little so when the band launched into the danceable "Goin' Against Your Mind" off their latest release, 2006's You in Reverse, the audience was rejuvenated and started to get down. Due to a curfew, BTS was forced to only have one short encore; the wisely chosen fan favorite "Car" induced the hundreds in attendance into one giant sing-along. While unfortunately we can't "see movies of our dreams" like Doug would like, sometimes we can attend concerts of them.
Built to Spill is on tour now in Europe. Tour dates available here.
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