Dinosaur Jr. split the difference at First Avenue

Categories: Concert Review
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Dinosaur Jr. attracted a mixed crowd of young and old to First Avenue Wednesday night.  As could be expected, there were plenty of bushy beards and flannel shirts milling about, but there were also a number of goatees and shaved heads in attendance to remind one that the band's following extends well beyond the current younger generation of concertgoers.  Fittingly, the Massachusetts trio played a variety of songs from its '80s heyday - as well as some great cuts from its '90s back catalog - alongside more recent material in a show that had a little something for all its fans.

While the band has recorded two excellent albums since reuniting four years ago, they started the show with a pair of older songs.  "Thumb" kicked things off, its lethargic chords setting a relaxed tone as pot smoke wafted through the air.  Then Lou Barlow's thundering bass line from "Kracked" smashed things open, the song's explosive twists and turns eliciting enthusiastic cheers from the crowd, who sang along and jerked about to the music.

Opening duo MV & EE had played their bleached psych folk amidst Dinosaur Jr.'s equipment, J. Mascis' towering amplifier stacks warning of the ear-damaging squall that lay in store. While J. did tear into some hot solos, the set settled into a slower tempo early on as the band played a number of songs off last summer's Farm and took its time between numbers.

Songs like "Pieces" and "Plans" fit in well with the older material, the vocals unusually clear in the mix, but - especially in the case of the latter - they sometimes stretched out a bit and the audience seemed less familiar with them.  Those in attendance seemed most responsive to the classics, so when "Feel the Pain" arrived the momentum of the show finally began to pick up.

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