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Archive for the ‘Dinosaur Jr.’ Category

[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

Back in March when concerts were just starting to happen again, Dinosaur Jr were first out of the gate to announce a fall tour. I grabbed a ticket and it sold out almost instantly (yes, we were desperate for live music!).

I was excited more about the show than the fact that it was Dinosaur Jr.  The last time I saw them ( I can’t believe it was five years ago) the show was so good, I felt like didn’t really need to see them again.

Except for one thing.  The two shows I’d seen with them I was too close to the stage.  The guys’ amps are so loud that you can barely hear the vocals (bassist Lou Barlow even yelled at the people up front who complained–“stand father back, it’s physics!”).  So I wanted to stand further back to get the full Dino experience.

After being right up on the stage for Riley, I walked to the back and took up a spot in the middle of the room (I couldn’t voluntarily go all the way to the back).

And it was a much more enjoyable experience–except for the people around me.  There were a couple of really tall guys who just wouldn’t budge an inch. There were also a lot of loud people, including a guy who kept shouting “Just Like Heaven” (as if Dinosaur Jr is a band who takes requests). (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

I’ve seen Ryley Walker twice before this (and one time when he played lead guitar for Nap Eyes).  Every time I’ve seen him, it’s been a totally different experience.

The first time, back in 2018 (when Walker had long hair and a beard), he was on stage with Bill MacKay.  They jammed a bunch of songs and Walker was really funny.

Most of the songs were instrumental, but one, “Telluride Speed” was a fairly conventional song and super catchy.

I saw him again at the end of 2019 as part of a post Phish concert in NYC.   He looked totally different, with short hair, no beard and a winter hat.

He had a four piece, with Ryan Jewell on drums.  It was mostly lengthy guitar solos and lots of improv.  Walker has some wild noisy guitar skills and I was right up there watching him.

For this show, it was again a four piece.  Ryan Jewell was on drums again (he’s the main reason I wanted to go) and Bill McKay was on co-lead guitar.  I’m not sure who was on bass. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: April 26, 2018] Overlake

My friend Al knows the members of Overlake and he thought he might be attending this show.  I was bummed he wasn’t there (and even moreso when I tried to text him to see if he was there and realized that I didn’t have his cell number, gah).

I wound up getting to the show really early and parked literally against the stage.  I was fascinated that at the start of the show all three drum sets were set up.  And how fascinating that Overlake (the opener) was right in the middle.

I looked up the band before the show and the description of the band sounded like I’d really like them:

Overlake is a three-piece band from Jersey City, comprised of Tom Barrett (voice, guitar), Lysa Opfer (Bass, voice), and Nick D’Amore (drums).  When they’re not incessantly waxing philosophical about the musical merits of both MBV and GBV … Overlake is busy honing their own unique brand of noisy dreampop, drawing from such stalwart influences as Dinosaur Jr, Slowdive, and Yo La Tengo.

(more…)

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SOUNDTRACK: LARA BELLO-Tiny Desk Concert #728 (April 10, 2018).

I was quite taken with the instrumentation on this Tiny Desk Concert.  Although Lara Bello sings in Spanish and the main instrument is flamenco guitar, the addition of the clarinet (Jay Rattman), was a real treat.  It was a sweet surprise in the beginning of the first song “Nana de Chocolate y Leche” and then it was like the addition of a new culture in the main body of the song when it had a more klezmer sound.

I love the percussion that Arturo Stable is playing.  In addition to the box drum, he’s got a wooden bowl with clattering stuff in it that he is manipulating with his foot.

I’m glad to note that the instrumentation was a deliberate choice and an eccentric one:

Lara Bello occupies the space between genres where magic happens. Born in Spain, she was raised with not only Spanish traditions like flamenco and canto but also pop music and jazz. The instrumentation she assembled for her Tiny Desk reflects that elastic approach to genre: acoustic classical guitar, clarinet, violin and a percussionist who didn’t keep time so much as color the proceedings.

None of this should detract from the amazing work of Eric Kurimski on guitar. It’s only about midway through the first song that you realize that all of the music that’s not clarinet or violin is coming from him.

Bello says that “Nana de Chocolate y Leche” is a lullaby for her friend who had twin babies one born with skin more the color of chocolate and one with skin more the color of milk. The na na na section was a lot of fun and felt like it could be any language especially as that section seems to drift every so slightly from flamenco.

“Suave” (soft) is about a butterfly that wants to reach the moon.  It opens with a beautiful violin (Janet Sora Chung) melody and a delicate clarinet addition.  The middle section of just guitar and violin is gorgeous.  I love hearing her sing the word “suave” at the end of the song.

“Sola” means “on my own” and is dedicated to everyone who has fallen deep and had to learn again how to fly again and once they did it, they flew higher.  It’s a pretty song with an extended clarinet solo.

After just three albums, Bello has become a noteworthy presence in the community of Spanish musicians who deftly mix jazz, classical and other traditions from Spain. That world can seem like a secret society to those who don’t understand Spanish, but you’ll see during Bello’s performances that the lyrics double as another flight of exploration as they float like wisps of smoke through the sonic spaces carved out by her collaborators.

[READ: January 2, 2018] Vapor

Max is an illustrator from Spain (his full name is Max Bardin).

I really enjoy Max’s works.  Although not too many have been translated into English (this was translated by Carol Gnojewski), his visuals are pretty striking and “simple” and are easy to enjoy even if you can’t read the words (usually of dialog).

Max’s stories and pictures are usually pretty surreal.  I enjoy his pictures as much as the stories, although the stories are often quite funny and enjoyable even if they don’t always make perfect sense.  The fact thar the epigram is from Dinosaur Jr is pretty awesome: “I feel the pain of everyone / and then I feel nothing”

The main character of this story is a man with a crazily long, boomerang-shaped nose. He is lying in a desert saying he feels like he is floating.  Up walks a cat with a similarly large nose.  The cat says the man is just hungry.  The man says he is not.  The cat asks if he’s one of those self-righteous people.  The man says no, he is just looking for meaning.  The cat asks if he means God.  “No , God is only a contaminated and infectious idea.  I don’t pursue ideas, I seek experiences.”

Then he goes on to talk about Absolute and Transparent things, vacancy, silence, paradoxes. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

2016-11-26-22-33-27I saw Dinosaur Jr. open up for Jane’s Addiction this summer.  I enjoyed their set (in fact, I was really going mostly to see them although I did like Jane’s as well).  But after it was over, I realized that I didn’t want to see them as an opening act. I needed a full show.

So even though it had been just a few months, when I saw that they were doing a headlining tour, I decided to check them out again.  And I’m really glad I did.  They played twice as many songs and were on more than twice as long.

The guys were able to stretch their songs out more and to pick from a really diverse set of songs.  2016-11-26-23-15-04Of course, being the headliners didn’t mean anything fancy–their stage set up (amps and more amps) was exactly the same as this summer.  And it’s possible that J. Mascis talked even less.  They were there simply to rock.

2016-11-26-22-59-14The only time that bassist Lou Barlow spoke was to berate people for complaining that they couldn’t hear the vocals.  The same thing happened at the summer show as well.  Barlow seemed pretty angry as he told us that we were standing in front of the guitar amps and that the vocals were coming through the house speakers.  So if we wanted to hear the vocals we needed to move to the back of the club.  “It’s Fucking Physics!”  I didn’t move back (the show was pretty crowded and I had a good spot), but I was able to hear the vocals much better than at the Summer Stage show.  I had planned that I would stand nearer the back to see if it was true, but I had a hard time passing up the chance to be so close. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: November 26, 2016] Easy Action

2016-11-26-20-44-16I had never heard of Easy Action when I saw that they were opening for Dinosaur Jr.  When I looked them up online I was taken to a Swedish glam metal band.  I was fairly surprised.

Then somehow I figured out it wasn’t that Easy Action.  Rather, this Easy Action is the creation of singer John Brannon.  Brannon is apparently notorious (or at least well-known), although I had never heard of him. He was in the punk band Negative Approach who I had heard of but didn’t know (they only released an Ep and an album).  And then later Laughing Hyenas who I also don’t know.  He formed Easy Action in 2001 and they released a second album in 2005.  And not much since then.

During the show, Brannon said it had been a couple of years since they’d played together and he thanked J. for getting them all back on stage.

About the only thing that Easy Action had in common with Dinosaur Jr. was that they were loud.  I arrived a few minutes into their set and I could hear them outside the building.  When I walked in the room, it was so loud that I had to stuff the earplugs in my ears as I ran to the bathroom. (more…)

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overpoSOUNDTRACK: J. MASCIS-Tiny Desk Concert #406 (November 22, 2014).

mascisJ. Mascis is best known as a wailing guitarist who plays in front of a wall of speakers with Dinosaur Jr.  But for this Tiny Desk Concert he busts out an acoustic guitar and plays some songs from his solo album (as well as an old Dino classic).

“Stumble” is sung in Mascis’ delicate falsetto.  They zoom in on him singing and its amazing how he doesn’t seem to be straining in any way doing this really high voice.  After all the falsetto, his saying “Thanks” in a deep voice is really kind of funny.

For the second song, he busts out the classic “Little Fury Thing.”  This acoustic version sounds really good–so simple and clean.  The original is great burst of loud rocking and it’s amazing that the song can sound so good stripped down. His voice is much deeper for this song .  I love at the end how he plays the strings really really fast but continues to swing in his most languid style.

The third song is actually two songs.  He switches guitars (and is apparently using sheet music) to play “Drifter/Heal the Star.”  The first part is a lengthy, really pretty instrumental.  For all of Mascis’ noise and rocking out, he knows how to write beautiful, lovely melodies.  The main melody is played on the high strings alternating some great strumming on the low strings for the “chorus.”   I could listen to this for ages.

The song segues into “Heal the Star” which sounds very Mascis–his most Mascis voice and strumming style.  Although for the chorus he’s back to the falsetto vocals again.  The solo a the end is great as he plays chords on the lowers strings while soloing ion the high strings (there must be a different tuning to make this sound so good).

I saw Dinosaur Jr a couple of months ago and I’m going to see them in November again.  I love Mascis’ loudness, but it’s wonderful to hear him play these quiet pieces too.

[READ: April 1, 2016] Overpowered!

I loved the premise of this book right from the start.  I mean, the cover alone is great, and flipping through it, there are some wonderful images of men with great mustaches in turbans doing all manner of hypnosis to people.  What I didn’t expect (but probably should have if I’d read his bio on the back) is that Green himself is a practicing hypnotherapist (in addition to being an actor and performer who has created such characters as “US Country music star Tina C and pensioner rap star Ida Barr.”

It turns out that Green has been interested in hypnosis for a long time.  He learned how to do it and then wanted to set the record straight for what hypnosis actually is as opposed to what we believe it is.

So this proves to be a thorough (and very funny) history of hypnosis through the years.   He says the book is called “Overpowered” because “I’m fascinated by the delight human beings derive from the idea of being taken over.  Being conscious may be beneficial, but it is also hard work.” (more…)

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[ATTENDED: August 7, 2016] Pearl Jam

2016-08-07 18.26.10After the excitement of seeing Pearl Jam at the Wells Fargo Center, we were psyched out of our minds to go to Fenway.  I didn’t realize that Fenway has a regular concert series.  I’d assumed that Pearl Jam were the first band to play there–they weren’t–but that didn’t detract in any way from the coolness of the venue.

Neither of us are baseball fans, although when I lived in Boston two decades ago, I did attend a couple of games at Fenway because it is a landmark (and when I was a kid I loved baseball, so duh).  But we knew that the venue would make the show even more special.

We’d have loved to have gone to both shows, but unlike some people, we couldn’t get tickets for both nights.  However, through a small piece of luck, I won tickets to a screening of Friday night’s show on Saturday night.  What?  Well, each night is filmed.  So the film crew filmed Friday night, then edited the footage together and had it ready on the next night as a really nicely edited package at the House of Blues (across the street from Fenway) on Saturday night.

It seemed kind of dumb to go to a music venue to watch a movie.  And Sarah and I were skeptical about going.  But we did and we had a  great time.  I’ve watched live DVDs and it’s always an okay thing to do–fun, but never like you were really there. But this was different. Having a group of some 600 people in a club–with bars and good lighting and excellent sound–it made it feel (almost) like a real concert.  And even though we laughed at the people who were clapping and cheering (as if the band were actually there), and taking videos of the screen (my battery died or I would have grabbed a few screen shots too), we were caught up in the excitement on several occasions as well. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Jane’s Addiction

2016-07-16 21.49.18When Jane’s Addiction came out back in the late 1980s, I loved them.  Nothing’s Shocking was my favorite album for a few years and Ritual de lo Habitual was a close second.  There was something about their sense of sleazy and weirdly catchy songs that I totally gravitated towards. I probably should have gone to Lollapalloza that year, but I didn’t.

But then I moved past them.  When they released Strays back in 2003, I didn’t even give it a listen.  Same with The Great Escape Artist in 2011.  I just didn’t care all that much.  I’d also gotten a little overexposed to Dave Navarro and his exploits over the next decade.

And while I was interested in seeing them–especially since they were doing Ritual in its entirety, I was much more excited to see Dinosaur Jr.

But wow, was I impressed by their show.  The most impressive thing for me was the sound quality.  Whether that is chalked up to the venue (I doubt it–outdoor venues aren’t usually that good) or the way they mixed it (more likely), I couldn’t get over how great the band fit together–it sounded like the album (not like it was prerecorded or anything, just really full).  And most of the applause goes to Navarro. (more…)

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[ATTENDED: July 16, 2016] Dinosaur Jr.

2016-07-16 19.49.10I have wanted to see Dinosaur Jr for many years.  I intended to see them last year when they toured with Primus, but I couldn’t get to the show.  So I was pretty excited that they were touring again, this time with Jane’s Addiction.

I had never been to a Stone Pony Summer Stage (never been to The Stone Pony either) and I didn’t really know what to expect (reviews on Yelp are pretty harsh).  Things got even more questionable when the weather turned nasty.  The show was supposed to start at 6, but as of 4:30 there was a huge thunderstorm in Absury Park, so they delayed the opening of the show.  And since there were more storms threatening for later, it was possible that it might get cancelled.

Just to make things a little more unsatisfying, Living Colour was supposed to be the first band on the bill.  I’ve never seen them and while I wouldn’t go out of my way to see them, I thought they’d be a lot of fun live.  I found out yesterday (although this was probably decided much earlier) that they weren’t playing in this show (they are in Germany), and that Minus the Bear would be opening instead.

I don’t know Minus the Bear (a lot of bands with names like “noun the noun” lately, and I don’t really know any of them).  I listened to a few songs before the show and thought they might be fun.  But the gates didn’t wind up opening until 8PM, so Minus the Bear didn’t even play. (more…)

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