29 September 2008

Dinosaur Jr / Built to Spill - Terminal 5 9/26/08

After a couple days of letting Friday night's big event simmer in my brain (read: procrastinate), I will now attempt to do justice to the awesomeness that Dinosaur Jr and Built to Spill. To begin, let's discuss the venue, Terminal 5. This is not a fun place to get to given its location in the middle of nowhere in Manhattan's far West 50s. Inside it's not necessarily a bad place, though I recommend heading up into the balconies for better sound. You can see alright from the floor, but your ears will not enjoy it. I'm not sure what this place was before it became Terminal 5, but I get the impression it was a run-of-the-mill club kinda place. Those places aren't so much designed for the acoustics as they are for listening to shit sounds on coke. Anyway, I digress...

Arriving late for the 7:30 kickoff, we missed probably 85% of Meatpuppets set, which kinda sucks 'cos for the last 3 songs they were bounding around the stage like the three old crazy people that they are. Then...

Falling into a twilight zone in which my 27yr old universe is suddenly transposed onto my 14yr old universe, J Mascis, Lou Barlow, and Emmett Patrick Murphy appeared on stage, fiddled with their gear and turned the time machine's knob to 1987. "The Lung" was first up and for no particular reason thought it an interesting choice. They followed that by warping to the future with two tracks off Beyond and then zooming back for more early stuff. We really had no idea what their setlist rationale was going to be heading in; all early stuff from the first three records?..mostly new material from Beyond?..a smattering here and there of everything?

Well, it turns out it was the latter, as they played at least one track from every album except Hand It Over, and that was basically a J solo album anyhow so no real loss. I can't claim to remember everything they played, but they got in "Out There", "Feel the Pain", "Freak Scene", "Repulsion" (one of my personal favorites), "No Bones", "The Wagon" and one or two more (maybe "In A Jar"?). I'll admit I screwed my memory up by a) getting stoned before the show, and b) listening to the original three albums in a row on Saturday. Do I keep a notebook on me at all times? Yes. Did I write down what they were playing while they were playing it? Of course I did not. The important thing is that I finally got to see my favorite band (and guitar hero) live and kicking ass with a cheshire grin slapped on my mug. Oh, I should also mentioned they closed with two covers, "Just Like Heaven" and an early hardcore song that nobody could place at all. If anybody knows what they played, do let me know so that I can feel stupid when I read it and say to myself, "Why didn't I recognize that?"

While we tried to stretch our aging legs and keep too much blood from pooling in our feet, Built to Spill hit the stage in a six-man triangle formation: their usual quartet augmented by a cellist/keyboarder and a third tour guitarist. They played 1997's Perfect From Now On from start to finish; a spectacular, if subdued, performance marred only by Doug fiddling with a broken guitar strap during, ironically, "Stop the Show". Their decision to perform this particular one is curious given that though it's an amazingly lush, considerate piece in it's entirety, it doesn't really "rock" as hard as Keep It Like A Secret. I'll also admit that until fairly recently I wasn't as familiar with Perfect... as I was with Keep It... since the latter had come out just before I went to college. They did perform an "encore" of sorts with three tracks off that album, though, which got the crowd pumped up.

The grand finale occurred as BTS jammed out their set and J Mascis wandered on stage, jazzmaster in hand. Everyone was expecting him to start playing along, but then out of nowhere Kurt Kirkwood usurps the drum throne setting in motion a chain of events that included Chris Kirkwood impromptu "storytelling" then wrestling guitar-Brett from BTS and culminated in an awful jam session that pretty much everyone wanted to end, but none of the dudes on stage could really figure out how. An utterly glorious catastrophe to behold, though a proper encore would have been much preferable.

Overall a fantastic show simply because of what it was. Of course I would have maybe prefered to have been a teenager again with that sort of energy during Dinosaur's set, but hell, when I was a teenager the original lineup had long since disbanded. So I don't mind taking what I can get now and wallowng in its reinvigorated awesomeness.


Richard said...

The hardcore song Dino played is "Chunks," by an obscure early-80s Boston band called Last Rights. Dino's cover messes with the lyrics a bit to turn a macho chest-thumping song into a swipe at stupid hardcore idiots.

It was a b-side on Dino's "Just Like Heaven" ep on SST.

Alex said...

oh Richard!
that's awesome, thanks for the info. I never would have gotten that.