Avalon-July 15, 2005
Back From Extinction: Reunited Dinosaur Jr. Return to Avalon
By Rory Flynn
can add another band to the ever-growing "reunion" tour list. These
gigs have become quite common lately. Bands that once would have laughed at
the thought of reuniting, are now temporally putting individual differences
aside, taking to the road, and most importantly cashing in. For better or
worse, Dinosaur Jr. has been the latest to add themselves to the reunion circuit.
Pioneers of the late 80's/early 90's indie scene, the Northhampton natives
had a mixed bag of loud treats for a near sell-out crowd at the Avalon Ballroom
on Friday night.
From 1984 to 1989, Dinosaur Jr. made up of guitarist/lead singer J. Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Emmett Jefferson "Murph" Murphy III was the best thing to come out of western Massachusetts. In that short time they recorded three albums together, Dinosaur, You're Living All Over Me (recently named #31 in Spin Magazines top 100 albums of the past 20 years) and Bug, all to critical acclaim. However, Mascis and never got along, which resulted in Mascis kicking Barlow off the band. Barlow went out to form two bands, Folk Implosion and Sebadoh, while Murph hung around for couple of albums before Mascis used the Dinosaur Jr. name as a solo act for a few more years. Merge Records recently re-released the first three Dinosaur Jr. albums and the band has since reunited for a summer tour.
On stage at Avalon, Dinosaur Jr. was all business through its 16-song set. There was no fan interaction besides the repetitiveness of Barlow's "you ready?" and Mascis' "thank you" at the start and end of each song. As for the trio themselves, little was shown to believe that the three are actually now all getting along. Mascis, who barely cracked a visible smile behind his long gray hair, kept to his usual self by raging through countless solos that left most in awe. While at the opposite side of the stage was Barlow who along with Murph in the middle, always the mediator between the other two, laid the rhythmic foundation. Neither Mascis nor Barlow left their post as if Murph's drum kit was a borderline, though they did share vocals on a few songs.
Oh, and have I mentioned how loud this show was. Anyone who had thoughts that the band may turn down the amplifiers in their older age were terribly mistaken. From the opening riffs of Mascis's guitar assault on "Gargoyle", it was evident to all in attendance that their ears would be ringing for quite some time. The entire set was dedicated to the band's first three albums including fan favorites including "In a Jar", "Little Fury Things", and "Repulsion".
By night's end, Dinosaur Jr. hit full stride with an energy filled jam session during "Sludgefest" which exemplified why these guys have been so influential. An encore of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" and "Freak Scene" captivated the crowd. However, many were disappointed that Dino didn't carry the momentum on for a couple of more songs for the hometown crowd, but rather the show was sadly cut shorter than most have been on this tour.
So, the Dino trio are back (...for now). For better or worse, you can decide. Did they pass the expectations of those in attendance at Avalon? The answer is probably not, but then again, a full and true Dinosaur Jr. is better than anything else we've seen in the past fifteen years.