Concert Wrap – Dinosaur Jr., April 17 @ George's Majestic Lounge

April 18th, 2009 at 1:54 pm

J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. It was dark and packed in George's, but we got a few photos. All images by KEVIN KINDER, Northwest Arkansas Times.

J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. Photos by KEVIN KINDER.

It was a Friday night. Buzz was high in the months leading up to this show. A mostly full George’s Majestic Lounge was waiting for Dinosaur Jr.’s first performance in Fayetteville in 22 years.

And it was… flat. Dull. Dreary.

The band’s bassist, Lou Barlow, went as far as to call the crowd out.

“You have no energy,” he said, then added a quick “sorry,” as if to apologize for what he’d just admitted. But he was right.

Of course, Dinosaur Jr. didn’t exactly come screaming onto stage with manic energy, either.

Click the ‘more’ link below to continue reading about Dinosaur Jr.’s April 17 performance at George’s Majestic Lounge.

Call it a paradox, one of those live performance conundrums: Did the crowd have no energy because the band didn’t, or did the band have no energy because the crowd was listless?

Answers like that aren’t easy to come by, but I talked to several people who were displeased with the length of the show, the vibe, the sound mixing… everything, really.

It was an interesting crowd that was assembled at George’s on Friday night, and it should tell you something about the band. Dinosaur Jr. launched themselves onto the scene in the late ’80s with a series of potent, grungy records, that, along with contemporaries such as Sonic Youth, helped define the alt-rock and indie-rock movement that was then still in its nascent days.

But in the late ’90s, the band broke up for about 10 years. The momentum left.

And so there were quite a few people, perhaps 25 percent of the crowd, that were in the their late 30s or early 40s there to remember a band that broke while they were in college.

Since reuniting in 2005, the band has released an album and has completed another that will be released June 23. Those albums have yet to re-create the buzz.

Murph of Dinosaur Jr.

Murph of Dinosaur Jr.

So new fans, college-aged fans, the kind that made up the majority of last night’s crowd, were still crawling when Dinosaur Jr. hit their peak. Perhaps they know the catalog and are into it. Or perhaps they were there because they were told Dino Jr. was a band that all the cool kids were supposed to like. At any rate, Barlow wasn’t wrong about the energy level.

Although, it must be said: It’s hard to dance at a Dinosaur Jr. show. It’s an ominous sign that onstage were not one, not two, but three Marshall stack amps taller than a human being behind where guitarist J. Mascis would stand for much of the night. It was loud, real loud, unbearable without earplugs loud.

Make no doubt about it, either. This was Mascis’ show. With all due respect to the musicianship of Barlow and drummer Murph, they weren’t the ones that drew screams of appreciation when they entered the stage.

The songs, with muddy, droning vocals, are but launching pads for the guitar work of Mascis, which came in wave after wave of solos that thankfully never seemed tedious or overdone. Rather, most people got their money’s worth alone in hearing those solos, especially those that erupted on a jam session that extended from a song that will appear on the new album.

No, this night wasn’t about songs, even though the band did play both tunes that would most likely considered their hits: “Feel The Pain” and a cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven.”

It was about appreciating loud guitars and fast drumming. And for that reason, the air guitar/beer bottle microphone singing/air drumming crowd was active last night, pretending like they could keep up, which was rather unlikely.

You got it, or you didn’t. As for the Fayetteville crowd, I’m leaning on the latter. George’s was a lot less full at the end of Dinosaur Jr.’s 70-minute set than it was at the beginning.

As for the opener, I missed them due to another engagement. But I heard good things. Perhaps Dead Confederate can make it back to Fayetteville soon. From what I heard, they made a few fans last night.

  • dgold

    Fair review, especially since you complimented the clear highlight of the show: the “new song” from their upcoming album, that had more of a jam and roots rock exploration feel. Whether premeditated or improvised, the ending of that song was extended longer than most of their repertoire. J Mascis played awesome guitar here.

    If the crowd was less than vibrant in its energy at first, whatever lingering excitement existed or had built in the first couple songs, I felt was sucked away when the band groused about it verbally on stage. Negative comment led to negative reaction and deflated the show. The “Just Like Heaven” encore was decidedly truncated: it’s normally all of 4 minutes, and they still cut it short, as if to make a point: we’re out of here.

    Dead Confederate opener was strong. Wish you could have been there, Kevin Kinder, as I know you wanted to hear them play. This band may have a big future, and feels like they’re on the cusp of something big. It crackles. I also had opportunity to meet & record interview footage with the band members (to air on Honest Tunes Radio @KXUA next week). The guys are very down to earth, approachable, cool, and more Southern-styled in their demeanor than the urban skinny jeans and stringy hair appearance might first let on. They’re for real, and have it going on. DC needs to return to Fayetteville as a headliner. Did you know they’ve recently had the luck of opening tours for Drive-By Truckers, The Whigs, Dinosaur Jr., and more? A band on the way up. Grab a chunky guitar riff and hold on for dear life as each song ascends to bursting wide open space and volume at the peaks.

    Thanks again for the Review, Tuned In.

    Daniel Gold
    Honest.FM radio show at KXUA