Thursday, May 24, 2007

If you ever need a laugh, read the Dinosaur Jr chapter in Michael Azerrad's Our Band Could Be Your Life: Scenes From the American Indie Underground 1981-1991. It's a hilarious litany of passive aggressiveness, mutual loathing, interpersonal diasters and all-round bad behaviour. It's amazing that that classic, fractious trio is back together again, touring and recording. Their show at the Commodore last night was big and loud, probably much the same as when they got in the van to play gigs for six people 20 years ago. I last saw them in 1991 on the Green Mind tour after they'd ousted Lou Barlow by pretending to break up, then drafting in another bassist. Alterna-rock fever had hit, so the club (86th Street, I think it was) was pretty full. I was there alone and not liking the scene too much, especially after The Jesus Lizard (a band I'd learn to love) laid a bummer on everyone with an abrasive set. Fifteen years later, the atmosphere at the Commodore was much more mellow. J's Stonehenge-like semicircle of Marshall stacks gave out during the first song, but no matter—Lou and Murph just kept hammering away till the song's end. The rest of the set went by uneventfully, with a sprinkling of new songs amongst the older material, with the requisite murmured "thank you"s and awkward silences between numbers. The bonhomie between band members didn't exactly gush forth. Things seemed a little tense, but that's to be expected. They concentrated on throttling their respective instruments and, like most great bands, the sound they created—like Crazy Horse playing hardcore pushed through a fridge-sized distortion box—had that something that you can't attribute to any one element. They did "Little Fury Things," "Raisans," and "In a Jar" and not very much at all from Bug. I'd hoped they might do "The Post." The set ended with a powerful You're Living All Over Me double shot of "Kracked" and "Sludgefeast" before the band came out for an encore consisting of a speedy, perfunctory "Freak Scene" and "Forget the Swan" with an extended J solo. A solid show from a band I'm glad I got the chance to see again.

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