Dinosaur Jr. Live at Roadrunner Boston, MA [05-13-23] 

Dinosaur Jr. Live at Roadrunner Boston, MA [05-13-23] 

Monday, 15 May 2023

Seeing Dinosaur Jr for me is a loaded affair. First off, because I had the chance to see them before, 15 years ago, but I was much more preoccupied with interviewing and seeing Mike Watt, who was opening for Dinosaur Jr, than sticking around to see them perform. I knew who J Mascis was, and stuck around backstage to meet him, but I think I met him more than he met me. A week later I was recounting the story to the Bouncing Souls, how I could barely get a reaction out of Mascis, and they said, “He did a LOT of psychedelics in the 90s.” I don’t know, maybe that’s just his laid-back personality. Has anyone ever seen a hopped-up J Mascis? 

Second, I’m in the minority who think Dinosaur Jr have gotten better with age. Weird, right? But my entry point was Farm, and when I went back and tried diving into their back catalog, I found Bug to be kind of boring and noisy sounding. Maybe it’s worth a revisit, but there’s something about the sharp, crisp, melodic, shreddy version of Dinosaur Jr albums now that really resonates with me. So, I’ve had to live with these two factors over the past several years, waiting for the right moment to do right by my past wrongs.  

What a treat it is to check out a new venue in Boston that freshly opened during the pandemic. Roadrunner is aptly named, is in the new bustling part of town (Brighton Landing) and is the right kind of business we need in Boston: a mid-size venue bringing independent acts to the area.  

So, let me ask you Roadrunner, why you gotta do Dinosaur Jr dirty? 

It became evident from the first song that something was off sound-wise. Maybe the drums were out of sync, but I could swear that there was a drum echo that you could hear in quiet parts, almost like a prerecorded track. After that, things just sounded stranger, because it sounded to me like all the amps were on, and all the instruments were micced, but all that was coming through the house speakers was J’s guitar and the vocals. I was up front and to the left and was struggling with this throughout the whole set. Could it be because of where I was? I would later find out during the Hold Steady’s set all the instruments were clearly audible from my position. For Dinosaur Jr, you could barely hear Murph’s drums or Lou’s bass. You could definitely hear Mascis’ guitar, especially when he solo’d. Alas, I tried to ignore all this and enjoy the show. 

Dinosaur Jr cast a wide net over their discography with their setlist, playing songs off their new album Sweep it Into Space all the way back to Dinosaur (conveniently skipping Farm), like Thumb, Kracked, Sludgefeast, and of course, Freak Scene. Murph’s drumming was loud fierce, Lou’s bassplaying was powerful and energetic and it was nice to have him featured in some of my favorites off the new album, and Mascis of course is a powerhouse on guitar (AND the bass!). The band was tight, on point, and their performance was a true celebration of their catalog. I don’t use the term professional very often, but holy cow, you could tell there is something special about these three guys that have kept them together (almost) all these years. And seeing them up there, it was both nice to check something off my bucket list, and a testament that this band has a lot of life left in them. Some great things are still in store for them. Forty years into their career, can anything stop them? Now, Roadrunner, get your act together!

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