Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Live: Dinosaur Jr. + Jeffrey Lewis

Woah, tumbleweeds rollin' through this place. Sorry for the long absence. I've had some personal stuff going on.

When: 1/18/10
Where: Brooklyn Bowl

First things first. This was my first time at Brooklyn Bowl and let me tell you, I do not like this place. It's got a creepy corporate vibe. The stage is set up behind and perpendicular to the bowling alleys, so off to your right, you got people who don't care about music bowling. It might be a hip place for hipsters but it's not a place gives a crap about music.

Jeffrey Lewis opened. His set was far too long, so long that my fantasy about beating him up after the show grew ridiculously complex. The guy is one of those K Records wannabe indie folksters who thinks singing about things like moving out of his apartment and mosquitoes makes him super special. Lets get it straight. Being a wuss was bold and edgy when Calvin Johnson did it back in 1988, because at that time, punk had lost its way and been taking over by macho jerks who had no idea the real meaning of hardcore. Punk music and indie music, which were once one and the same, were about making people challenge their assumptions, open rock music to new ideas, open every door that was shut by the 60's and 70's. The door isn't shut to wussy manchild types and hasn't been for a long time. So son, you're making a fool of yourself, making music that hundreds of people have already made. It's unoriginal and easy.

Even if there were some merit in the genre, Jeffrey Lewis ain't the guy to find it. Even though it's a exceedingly simple kind of music to make, he messed it up a lot, particularly with regards to rhythm. His little rap song, set to handclaps, fell of the rails more than once. I don't really like it when people make a mockery of music. I suppose I should say something nice. Well, he had some strong melodies. Stayed on them for far too long, but at least they were good. Not everyone can write a good melody. So he's got that. [MySpace]

OK, time for the main act. Dinosaur Jr positively killed. J Mascis, the man who put lead guitar back in indie rock, was in fine form, while Lou Barlow slammed out his most excellent bass lines. They played some songs off their new record, which is good since all those songs are good. They also ran through all the best songs from their first three records. It was a very, very long set and every minute was well spent.

What can I write about this band? They've been playing the same style with the same greatness consistently for a very long time. J Mascis is gray and a bit pot-bellied now. He plays with the same cool he always did. His rips out massive, high-speed solos with no fanfare. His bass player and famous frienemy Lou Barlow stays on the other side of the stage, rocking out as usual, with his dark mop of hair covering his face.

The long set was followed by a long encore. I thought by this point, the band had played everything I really wanted to hear, but then, at the very end, they started playing something very familiar, but that I hadn't heard in a very long time. It took me a while to realize what it was - the cover of the Cure's "Just Like Heaven" that closes Live Through This. It was the first Dinosaur song I ever heard, but I hadn't listened to it in years. And I doubt I was the only person in the audience whose relationship with the band came full-circle that night. It was just one of those sets that brings back everything you love about the band. And with Dinosaur Jr, that's a lot. [MySpace]

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