I was reading in the New Yorker recently about some crazy experiments being done with massive particle colliders. Some scientists speculate these mega machines could create black wholes or otherwise rip up the space-time continuum. I’m guessing something to this effect already happened at some top secret location and the members of Dinosaur Jr. just happened to be in the area and fell through some time warp, much like Thomas Hayden Church’s character just happens to fall in that pit in Spidey 3 and become Sandman. Seeing the band at the Troubadour May 12 (the middle date in a weekend-long three-show run at the venue), I could really have believed the trio had just stepped right out of its ’80s heyday. Sure, J. Mascis’s hair is greyer, Lou Barlow isn’t the waif he used to be, and Murph no longer has a hair on his head. But when it comes to shredding, the band hasn’t lost a step.
They opened with “Almost Ready,” the opener from their recently released, triumphant reunion album, Beyond. They sounded spot-on and never came down from such a high plateau the whole night. Interestingly, the band decided to play songs from the time when Barlow wasn’t in the band. When Mascis introduced the first of these, Barlow demurred that he’d try his hardest not to fuck things up. And they definitely didn’t fuck up “Feel the Pain,” instead blasting through the song’s tempo changes at an even more breakneck speed.
Over the course of the concert, it hit me that most if not all of Dinosaur Jr.’s songs sound the same, and that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. They’re all loud as hell. They all feature some time for Mascis to noodle and jam. And they’re all absolute movers, the types of songs you want to throw your body around the room to. Which made it all the more glaring how ridiculous this whole “hipsters shouldn’t move a muscle at a live show” thing has gotten. I would look out over the crowd and be awed that no one was even bobbing a head. (Although Dinosaur Jr. super fan Henry Rollins was rocking out, and he came back the next night to do the same.)
As great as the Pixies comeback was a few years ago, Dinosaur Jr.’s seems even better. The members of the Pixies seemed like they were just a step slower, not going at the same energy level their oft-frenetic songs demand. Not so with Dinosaur Jr., which remains anything but prehistorically outdated.