Dinosaur Jr.
Musica, Akron, April 8
by Phil Goldberg

Dinosaur Jr. have been such an integral part of my life—and everybody’s life—so to reflect on this show without providing some personal context would be unnatural and dishonest. First and foremost, Dino Jr. remains our flagship band, “our” meaning all of us rock music types who spent the better part of our cerebral livelihoods categorizing, canonizing, comparing and contrasting bands that have changed everything forever. It’s a grandiose descriptor and qualifier, but if you love Dinosaur Jr. and all of the music to which they have led you, you can’t deny it. And this collective “our” is who was in attendance on a Wednesday night at a nice, albeit strange, venue in the middle of downtown Akron.

As the sea of Ohio dudes and chicks filed into the show, post-ironic rawk trio Awesome Color delivered a potent and inoffensive soundtrack of “get my beer” music. Truthfully, it was a night where no one would have cared if some Klan member was yapping into a mic as the opening act, so Awesome Color fit in fine. There was minimal lag time between sets, and J, Murph and Lou made there way on stage to an oddly underwhelming reception. For a second there, I think the older folks in attendance were asking themselves if the band was really playing, while the younger subsets looked around for the person who bought them a beer.

The first two songs of the evening were off of 2007’s Beyond, and showcased a solid and well-rehearsed rhythm section, stifling any doubts one might have had about the less popular element of the legendary group. In fact, one of the strongest tunes of the night was “Crumble,” an absolute gem from the same recent release. Lou at one point made it easy on the crowd’s expectations by announcing that although a new album was ready and on its way, they were “only going to play released stuff”—or something like that, as my ears were already ringing. Lou’s announcement proved to be only partially true as, like clockwork, Mascis blew out a fuse after a 10-minute long space jam during “Pick Me Up” and the rhythm section ironed out a new tune (or at least part of one) during the maintainence.

All proceeded without another hitch—despite the continual use of no less than six miked Marshall stacks—as the band went from one crowd favorite to another. They drifted seamlessly through songs like “Feel the Pain” and, of course, “Freak Scene.” By set’s end, any given person in attendance had either pogoed, air guitared, or even moshed once. A modest and routine encore proceeded and concluded all before the 11 o’clock hour, and it was over.

Not a single frown or scowl was worn by anyone leaving the affair. I’d like to think that the reason for this is genuine appreciation of the value and meaning the group has brought into our musical discourse in the past 25 years. Or maybe it was the fact that no one had to worry so much about getting home late and paying the babysitter overtime. Either way it was easy to see how this band could—comfortably—be your life.