You could never accuse the guys in the indie rock trio Dinosaur Jr. of getting by on their rock star good looks. That’s certainly case now more than it was even when they first formed in 1984. With his long, silver hair and ragged goatee, singer-guitarist J. Mascis looks like some kind of wizard. And bassist Lou Barlow has let his hair grow out to the point that he looks like Bozo the Clown, albeit without the bright orange dye job. And yet the band, which reformed in 2005 after an extended break-up, has still got it, something it showed last night before a capacity crowd at the Beachland Ballroom.
“It’s great to finally make it to the Beachland,” said soft-spoken Mascis at the beginning of the 90-minute show. Dinosaur Jr. and Mascis’s and Barlow’s various sideprojects have often performed at the Grog Shop but graduating to the bigger Beachland stage didn’t pose any problems. In fact, the band cranked up the volume and perfectly mixed Mascis’s incredibly intricate guitar solos so they didn’t overwhelm the vocals. After opening with several songs from the band’s new album, I Bet on Sky, the band turned to the melodic “Start Choppin,’” a tune from its 1993 album Where You Been. It added a jam to the end of the new track “Watch the Corners” and then segued into a spacey guitar freak out that then coalesced into “Feel the Pain,” which the band played a little fast at moments but nailed nonetheless.
Barlow then introduced “Training Ground” as the first song that he and Mascis played together. The noisy tune wasn’t a highlight, but Barlow certainly appeared to enjoy singing it and frantically shook his head as if he were a dog trying to dry off. A two song encore concluded the set and, after asking for requests (“We do not know ‘Sultans of Swing,’” Barlow said, “so stop yelling it”), the band turned “Out There” into something majestic that ushered in comparisons to Neil Young and Crazy Horse. Who needs good looks when you've got great guitar riffs?
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