Preview: Dinosaur Jr.

You probably don’t need me to tell you that a small, relatively unknown group called Dinosaur Jr. is playing at the Picador tomorrow night. I’m kidding, of course: this is only one of the biggest shows of the year, and besides the flavor-of-the-year sweatfest that was Dan Deacon/Girl Talk, this gets my vote for must see show of the season. Am I wrong to be excited? Dinosaur Jr. is generally heralded as great from just about everyone who listened to music in the 80s and 90s, and while the post-Barlow output has been debated in some circles, it was actually J. Mascis’s more delicate songcraft that got me hooked during my formative years. (Remember the amazing Spike Jonze video for “Feel the Pain”?) I’m such a Dinosaur Jr. fan that I’ll still admit to really liking Buffalo Tom, who were often derided as “Dinosaur Jr. Jr.” The fact that they were once featured on My So-Called Life didn’t hurt, right? (video mashup!)

Anyway, enough about my life as an awkward teen. But it is precisely this softer side of Dinosaur Jr. that has some people calling their legacy into question (or at least calling it “unfinished business”). The earlier output, featuring Lou Barlow on bass, is critically understood as their best and most important work, and with the healing power of time I’m willing to see this. Their sound in the late 80s was devastating, with 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me and 1988’s Bug both being incredible records. The latter featured the song “Freak Scene,” which besides being the unofficial anthem of Mission Freak, catapulted the band into fame via college radio.

The good news for Tuesday night is that Barlow is back, so no matter if you’re a balladeer or a noise-lover, the group should be firing on all cylinders in support of their surprisingly good and suprisingly assertive Beyond, one of the “out-of-nowhere” records of the year. (Just so you know, Buffalo Tom also put out a record this year. It was pretty good.) I would consider making a joke about dinosaur acts, but wasn’t Bob Dylan already in town this semester? Get some flannel on and come down to the Picador on Wednesday. Tickets are $20, and worth every penny.

Download: Dinosaur Jr. - Freak Scene

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