Thursday, August 11, 2005

Concert Review: Dinosaur Jr. 2005

Photo courtesy of The Onion AV Club

Artist: Dinosaur Jr.

Date: Saturday, July 23, 2005

Venue: The Quest

Location: Minneapolis, MN USA

Review: Backstory: if I had to pick one band to claim as my favorite among those that released albums while I was in high school, it would have to be Dinosaur Jr. Malcolm turned me onto them just before they released their third album, Bug, playing me both their s/t debut and You're Living All Over Me in his old Datsun. On first listen to the latter, I said, "This is too metal, I like that other one better." This was a dumb comment on many levels, but as of 1988, I didn't really know how to interpret their sound. For those who grew up post-Nirvana, it might be hard to realize how fresh 80s bands like The Flaming Lips, The Butthole Surfers, Sonic Youth, or Dinosaur Jr. sounded. Of those four, Dinosaur Jr. was the one who lacked any psychedelia or artsiness. And meanwhile, most of the other good indie guitar bands were either the too-sweet-for-me Replacements and REM (I like them much more now as an adult) or post-hardcore bands like Hüsker Dü. Dinosaur Jr. had a classic rock sensibility buried within thier indie rock and punk rock exterior. It wasn't long after Malcolm's introduction that You're Living All Over Me became one of my favorite albums of all time, and it remains so to this day.

I saw them live twice back in their heydey. The first time was promoting Bug at the old Cat's Cradle in Chapel Hill, featuring the original members. A little later, I saw them with the less-interesting (but not bad) Green Mind line-up at Memorial Hall in Chapel Hill. If you can believe this, that concert also featured co-opening act Superchunk and headliners My Bloody Valentine (best concert line-up ever?).

Many of us old fans were a bit apprehensive about this new tour. The fact that they're back in touch and promoting the re-releases was just fine by me. The press had finally answered all those questions about the soap opera between J and Lou, which I had never seen so complete in print before. That was satisfying. It was also exciting to finally get a great CD pressing of those three excellent albums. Thanks to the album extras, I now have three more of their videos in my collection. But a reunion tour just seemed so rash after such a long split and considering that they were such a relatively under-appreciated and ignored band up until 2005. Therefore, it seemed like a money-grab, expertly orchestrated by Merge (no offense to a great indie label).

As a rule, my approach to things that really should get me fired up is one of diminished expectations. It's my self-protection mechanism for disappointment. In fact, my wife had to convince me to buy the $25 ticket. The verdict on DJ05? It was beyond just money-well-spent. Much fun was had by this thirty-something. I went completely solo, and never did see anybody I knew in the crowd. In fact, I was surprised at how young the crowd was. But regardless, I haven't moved my body that much at a concert in years. I considered jotting down the setlist for Ding Gua Gua, but it would have dissolved in sweat. They played an even mix of songs from all three of the re-releases, and played them better than I ever remember them playing them. They were tight, J was on-key, they seemed to be in a good mood (but nothing more than that - audience interaction and a stage show aren't something anyone expects or wants from them). They chatted with each other on stage, made an impromptu shift in their encore, and played a hard 90 minutes or so. The Quest is definitely not my top choice for concert-going, but their sound system is really good.

So, it was a great concert, and I had a great time. Now I can raise a toast to the Dinosaur Jr. reunion tour.


  • you should read the djr chapter of "our band could be your life." lotsa juicy gossip there. but seriously - djr not artsy or psychedelic? how bout that 15 minute sentridoh drone session at the end of you're living all over me? didja ever hear deep wound? djr is the definition of a post-hardcore band - influences were just a little more this side of ccr tho, methinks.

    my 2 cents.

    By Blogger tenfoot, at 1:52 PM  

  • I should have added, "aside from the Lou Barlow tape loop experiments." You can hardly call that a band effort. I stand by my observations.

    By Blogger Craig, at 9:49 AM  

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