A while back, a friend of mine went out to a Dinosaur Jr. show. He said it was literally the loudest thing he ever heard. So loud, in fact, that he developed a case of tinnitus.
It was a good lesson: no matter how un-cool you may think wearing earplugs or stuffing cotton in your ears is, hearing loss is even less cool.
While the sound system at Arch Street Tavern may not have screamed as brutally as the one that busted his ear (I, like many others, also came prepared with earplugs), it was certainly loud enough to leave some ringing. And to wake the dead with skull crunching fury.
The set ripped open with “The Lung” off the 1987 album “You’re Living All Over Me,” and continued a weave through their entire musical catalog. There were some songs from the band’s latest effort, including a rendition of “Watch The Corners” that featured bassist Lou Barlow on primary vocal duties.
The stage presences of Barlow and guitarist J. Mascus was a study in opposites. While tearing into his solos, Mascus looked almost bored with the effortlessness of his precision. Meanwhile Barlow spent the set pounding against his low hanging bass, swinging his long curly locks and holding the instrument aloft like a sacrifice.
Barlow took to the mic a few times between songs to hype up the crowd with calls out to towns in Connecticut and the Pioneer Valley.
As if the group’s intensity wasn’t enough, the regular set closer of “Forget The Swan” was taken from a 5 minute song to a 15-plus minute exercise in soloing, with Mascus crunching out all manner of riffage.
While his shredding and chord bending progressed it seemed as though Mascus was mumbling. Perhaps he was counting bars, mumbling to himself, or even whispering incantations of rock fury to his well-worn Fender Jazz Master.
After the insanity of “Swan,” the group came back out for their cover of The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” which blended into a dripping “Sludgefeast.”
Come With Me
In A Jar
I’ve Been Waiting For You
Watch The Corners
Feel The Pain
Forget The Swan
Just Like Heaven