Coming Back to Dependable, Epic DINOSAUR JR

  • The gobsmacked guitar nerd, stage right tight at the lip of the stage. Surrounded by 20 more.
  • The headbanging woman just letting ‘er rip by the side-stage speakers.
  • J Mascis, Dinosaur Jr - photo Mikala Folb/backstagerider.comThe just 19-year-old whose brother got them into Dino.
  • The pot-smoking Thin Lizzy-lookin’ band out on a group field trip.
  • The bemused mid-30s girlfriend.
  • Half of Vancouver’s local bands, aged 30s.
  • The gig photographers who didn’t leave after three songs because they want to stay.
  • The Team Mascises.
  • The Team Barlows.
  • The Everybody Loves Murphs.
  • The Indie Rock Woman With Discerning Taste.
  • The 45-year-old man.
  • The 44-year-old man.
  • The 43-year-old man.
  • The 42-year-old man.
  • The 41-year-old man.
  • The 40-year old man.

This is a portrait of a Dinosaur Jr. audience. As a group – collectively they are known as a “Marshall” – they are as dependable as deafness, screaming guitar solos, mumbling and epicness, each in their own right Dinosaur Jr traits.

It’s been a few years too long since I’ve seen Dino. I’ve seen Sebadoh, of course. I’ve seen J Mascis solo strummin’ on a casual afternoon in Brooklyn. I’ve listened to the new Dumb Numbers (a rad Adam Harding project featuring both Lou and Murph). But it’s been a few years since I hung with the trio and Henry Rollins or took a tour bus with them from Seattle to Vancouver, (a trip in which Murph and I philosophized. He still thinks we should start a new tech company and call it Phasebook).

So it was nice to see them again.

And it was nice to see them happier. At a sushi dinner beforehand, Murph talked about how he’s more focused, that he thinks his drumming is getting better (it is) and oh, he’s been getting into Buddhism. He doesn’t meditate, he says, but he’s finding his calm. And because J follows Mātā Amṛtānandamayī Devī (aka Amma the Hugging Saint), he says the two of them are better able to relate. “It’s kinda cool on this tour,” he says. “Normally I have to be in between Lou and J. But now we’re sort of hanging out.” After the show, however, everyone was still in their respective and expect patches. J and I exchanged our customary few sentences, Murph bounced out to go for a smoke and Lou stood the hallway, chatty and clutching a vinyl of some East Coast punk that someone gave to him. They were all chipper, though, and it was nice to see.

Dinosaur Jr. had a right to be chipper. I’ve seen Dino probably more times than I have fingers and this one was up there. For a moment, I sat in a booth and just actually watched. Like, not front-row-gig watched but sidehouse actively, mindfully watched the musicianship. “They’re doin’ this really good,” I remarked outloud to no-one, as my ears bled a little. A chunk of”Pieces”, “Tiny” and “Crumble” weren’t just loud but were predictably massive, and beyond that, tight. J kept the witty banter – which happens infrequently but still happens – to the barest minimum.

J Mascis hid behind his amps, sometimes, too.

Blue-and-black-socked Barlow also hid, but in plain sight, behind his Cousin It-With-Curls hair, locked in, eyes closed.

And yes, Murph’s drumming was better. Tighter. I didn’t even have to run backstage fetch him drum key during a show, this time. (“I’m organized now!,” he’d laugh when I reminded him of that night.)

The old stuff (“The Wagon”, “Start Choppin”, “Watch the Corners”) sounded as good as they get, and the new stuff off of Give a Glimpse Of What Yer Not, like “Goin down”, “I walk for miles”, “Love Is…” and “Knocked Around” were, I’m certain, where they were supposed to be. For new stuff, anyway.

Sometimes it’s good to take a break. And sometimes it’s good to come back to something that you know is gonna be really good. It was really good. \m/

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