Saturday, October 20, 2012

A Newbie's Live Dinosaur Jr Primer

So my old college roomie, Dave, is going to go see Dinosaur Jr in a few weeks. Once I was able to get past the blinding jealousy, I was filled with excitement for him, getting to see one of the great American bands of the 80s and 90s and, what the hell, this century so far, not to mention the absolute best band reunion ever—I don't think it's even close.

Dave knows some Dino Jr and obviously likes what he's heard 'cuz duh how could anyone not? But as he's not a huge, long-time fan, I looked at recent setlists and decided to put together a very brief primer for someone going to their first DJ show: just a handful of tunes he's likely to hear live, maybe a third of their total set.

Let's start with their current single, the delightfully crunchy yet as always ever so melodic "Watch the Corners," with the brief, sudden and (hitherto) unexpected acoustic interlude, from their new album, I Believe in Sky. 

They've also been playing the slower, grindier "See It On Your Side" a lot this tour, again from the new album.

Going back to their second album, they almost always play "The Lung." (My writing that, of course, means they're probably about to drop it from the set.)

But they go even further back, playing "Forget the Swan," off their 1985 debut, almost every time out, including an oddly large percentage of TV appearances.

Maybe their best-known song—other than their utter killer cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven"—is their sadly autobiographical yet utterly transcendent "Freak Scene."

'cuz when I need a friend it's still you. Now you're fired. See you in fifteen years. 

And that's about it. I could add the insanely catchy "Little Fury Things"—the very first Dinosaur Jr I ever heard and three seconds in I swear I knew I was going to be a fan for life—or "Out There" which, if not my very favorite DJ song ever is certainly Top 3. I could say to prepare to be amazed by the ferocity and dexterity of J Mascis's soloing or how he wears his heart on his sleeve in his lyrics yet can barely seem to be arsed to actually sing them, much less talk to the audience, or the bizarrely chordal bass playing of the much more outgoing Lou Barlow who never seems to have been told that the bass is traditionally plucked and not strummed. And Murph's drumming? How he seems to want to destroy his drum kit as quickly and violently as possible? His glorious tonsorial style? His overall diaphoretic appearance? In fact, I could go on for hours about Dino Jr, something Dave well knows.

But I won't. Instead, I'll just leave with one last, incomparable and utterly perfect pop song.

Good golly. I may need to borrow her cigarette.

Oh...and bring earplugs. Seriously, trust me on this. You're welcome in advance.

1 comment:

  1. Green Mind just absolutely blows me away every time I listen to it.

    I have not seen Dino Jr either, in any incarnation; one J Mascis solo show is all. I am also kind of jealous.