The Dinosaur Jr. reunion began as a brief flirtation with the Amherst slackers’ former glory, but with two new albums and some extensive touring under their belts, it seems like Dino Jr. are back, at least for now. This past Thursday, J Mascis brought the reinvigorated power trio to the Phoenix, for a performance that perfectly reflected the band’s attitude, at once laidback and aggressive.
A few days before the show, Mascis announced they would be playing an in store set at Sonic Boom a couple hours before the show. As the Sonic Boom stage is rather intimate, this was quite exciting for fans. Unfortunately it filled up half an hour before the band was supposed to play, the band was 45 minutes late, they played four songs, and it was acoustic.
The Phoenix was sold out, which is also bullshit, because the crowd of excessively drunk morons keep yelling and bumping into you and spilling their drink.
Oh well, Dinosaur Jr. was going to make it all better. And for the most part, they did. Unfortunately, signature drummer Murph didn’t clear customs, but the replacement was more than competent. Playing a well-balanced mix of old and new, the band made sure to touch on all their biggest hits, with Freak Scene, the Wagon and Feel the Pain all making mandatory appearances. Damian Abraham, leader of Toronto hardcore punk act Fucked Up, joined the band for their final track, Chunks, and generally made people feel good about Toronto’s mostly shitty music scene.
Lots of people have been making the point that when most bands reunite, they don’t write new material (Pixies), or the new material is just shit (Polvo), but Dinosaur Jr. hasn’t suffered this fate. True, but they do suffer from what I call Woody Allen Syndrome. Allen has made 3 fantastic movies 30 times, and Dinosaur Jr. has written 3 fantastic songs 30 times. So after a couple hours, Dinosaur Jr.’s verse, chorus, verse, blistering J. Mascis solo, chorus, can start to border on bland. Really though, you can’t exactly knock the boys for doing what they do and doing it well time and time again.