Dinosaur Jr. :: 12.15.11 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA
The night started civilly enough with Rollins giving the band his own enthusiastic introduction, and was followed by an interesting Q & A session that touched on a number of topics: the rarity of soloing in punk music (and how J Mascis pulls it off brilliantly), the excitement of playing in the legendary, acoustically-perfect Fillmore (“it’s hard to have a bad night here”), the importance of the rhythm section being locked in underneath Mascis’ barrage of distortion, and Mascis’ perfectionism (he wrote every drum and bass part for every song on Bug). Rollins’ assertive questions and commanding presence were contrasted by Mascis’ droll, simple answers and unassuming persona, though this would all change once he strapped on his guitar.
After playing two newer songs to warm things up, the band launched into side one of Bug, and the crowd and band alike threw themselves into the familiar music. Opening with “Freak Scene,” Mascis immediately showed us that he is in a league of his own when it comes to soloing — using feedback and raw sonic distortion, he can contort sound to his liking, making statements with his guitar outside of the realm of tonality. This contrasted with his mopey, mumbling vocals, which delivered his tuneful lyrics like the shy kid in the back of the class. These disparate contrasts of wimpy melodies and ferocious guitar define the sound of Dino Jr, and the crowd lapped up every moment.
After a heavy set which essentially blew out our brains, minds and ears, it was nice to have an encore that showcased their more “mainstream” 90s days; namely, their two major label “hits,” “Out There” and “Feel the Pain.” These poppier tunes saw Mascis clean up his tone, upon which he proceeded to straight kill us with a searing metal shred-fest that inspired pangs of nostalgia to well up in me for the days when MTV actually showcased awesome music like this. To close the show, Mascis barreled us over with a final bout of sonic assault that left my head ringing for days after. We poured out of The Fillmore feeling cleansed by the power of electric music, knowing right well that there is no band on this earth that can do what Dinosaur Jr. does. May the slacker ethos live forever!
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