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Fans at last night’s sold out Dinosaur Jr. show at The Paradise Rock Club were in for a treat as the legendary alternative-rock band delivered a delightful set full of classic hits as well as new material.
Setting the mood for the evening was opening band Hush Arbors. The Charlottesville, Virgina based band’s blend of noise and guitar rock sounded excellent and the crowd certainly was starting to get hyped up at this point. It seems likely that Hush Arbors’ sound has been influenced by Dinosaur Jr and therefore they were a perfect choice for an opening act.
Once Hush Arbors left the stage, the anticipation in the room started building even more. Fans were cheering and screaming and it seemed as though everyone could not wait for guitarist J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow, and drummer Murph to take the stage. Finally, after what seemed like an eternity, the trio burst onto the stage and wasted no time getting into their opening number-”Thumb”, a track from 1991′s Green Mind.
The most amazing thing about Dinosaur Jr. is despite the fact that they have been a band on-and-off for over twenty five years, they never sound stale or out-dated. Instead it is just the opposite as last night they sounded as tight and rocked as hard as any young band might have. In my opinion this is a is a testament to just how talented the three members are and how well they work together.
The band was touring in support of their newest studio record, I Bet On Sky, which was released earlier this year. Oddly enough (and probably to the delight of many of the fans in the audience last night), the group only played two songs off of I Bet On Sky: “Rude” and the record’s lead single, “Watch The Corners”. Instead the setlist was heavily comprised of material from albums the band released before their first breakup in 1997. While I am quite fond of the three records the band has released since reuniting in 2005 — Beyond, Farm, and the aforementioned I Bet On Sky – it was amazing to hear classic Dinosaur Jr. songs like “Freak Scene”, “Tarpit”, and “Raisans” performed live. However this trip down memory lane is not something new for Dinosaur Jr.; the band also recently released a live record, Chocomel Daze, which feaures a recording of a Dinosaur Jr. show back in 1987, in honor to celebrate their second record, You’re Living All Over Me, turning 25.
All three members of the group are fascinating figures to watch as they perform live, which makes seeing them live a delight. Lou Barlow’s passion and intensity is easily visible while he is on stage. J. Mascis is also a treat to watch as he is such a legendary alternative rock figure and it is amazing to see him in the flesh. And then there is Murph, who pounded at his drum kit with an expertise and precision that one can only get with over 25 years of practice.
Other highlights from the night included a sped up and faster version of “Feel The Pain” and “Training Ground”, which is a cover of Mascis and Barlow’s pre-Dinosaur Jr. band, the hardcore act Deep Wound. According to the band, “Training Ground” is about “not going to college” and more specifically, “not going to BU.” This received lots of laughs from the audience. The band also made reference to their Massachusetts roots and noted that they “were back at the old Paradise” and said “we’ve been here many times.”
The group’s main set closed with “Forget The Swan”, which is a track off of their debut record, Dinosaur. However, Dinosaur Jr. wasn’t going to leave the fans for the evening without a little encore action. They promptly returned to the stage and asked the audience what they wanted to hear. This obviously led to screams from the crowd and a ridiculous request for “Black Hole Sun” (to which the band responded “I’m sorry, but “Black Hole Sun” is by Soundgarden). They finally decided to go with Murph’s choice of “Just Like Heaven”, a Cure cover song and a frequent part of Dinosaur Jr’s encores. However, this time around “Just Like Heaven” blended into “Sludgefest”, a track from You’re Living All Over Me, which was an amazing way to end an amazing show.
If you get the opportunity to see Dinosaur Jr. in concert, do it! But if that doesn’t seem to be an option, you can always pick yourself up a copy of Chocomel Daze, which is probably the next best thing to seeing them live (along with all their other studio albums, of course).