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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Dino Jr. on Daytrotter

Posted By on Wed, Apr 8, 2009 at 4:39 PM

If you missed Saturday's Dinosaur Jr. throwdown at Higher Ground . . . what the hell? Seriously. It's not like you didn't know it was coming. Bryan Dondero wrote about the show on this very blog when it was announced. I interviewed Lou freakin' Barlow last week. I even mentioned the show again in a blog post last Thursday. You have no excuse.

Except maybe that it looked to be sold out. Still, I imagine you could have hung out at Quizno's that night and gotten the gist. It was pretty loud. (Although, honestly, I was expecting a little bit more. I even discarded my plugs about midway through, with only a modicum of tinnunitis afterwards.)

Anyway, if you missed the show, Daytrotter has just announced they'll be featuring Dino Jr. live in the studio within the next couple of weeks. So be sure to keep an eye (ear?) out for that. Based on the unbridled awesomeness that was Saturday's show, it should be a good one.

Since Marc Scarano did a pretty decent job summing up the show in his last post, and there's nothing especially pressing on the docket today, I will forgo a straight up review in favor of some random thoughts that crossed my mind that night, Twitter-feed style. Buckle up.

J. Mascis is one badass guitar player. He's also a really strange lookin' fella.

For the first time I can remember in a while, HG really smells like a Rock club (capital "R"). Lots of big, sweaty dudes about. Kind of a swordfight, actually.

My girlfriend points out that if Legolas, the archer elf from Lord of the Rings, had an out-of-shape, guitar-playing, half-human brother, he might look alot like Mascis.

Man, I'd forgotten how much I love "Out There." Where You Beenwas my first Dinosaur Jr. album. I bought a cutout cassette at aProvidence record store when I was about 14 and completely wore it out.Same with the CD that replaced it. It's probably still my favorite.

He also kind of reminds me of the Albino from the "Pit of Despair" scenes in The Princess Bride.

There is a noticeable lack of hipsterly presence, which is alternately refreshing and disappointing. Don't they know?

Was that a crowd surfer? My God, I do believe it was! And a faux pit to boot. Ah, memories!

He also kind of looks like SNL's Horatio Sanz playing Ozzy Osbourne.

I'm starting to develop an affinity for drinking Guinness out of a keg cup. At least the HG bartenders roughly know how to pour it, unlike most bars in town — including many of the supposedly Irish joints. There really is an art to the perfect pint.

There's also an art to the perfect rock show. And this was as close as I've seen in a while.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

I Love College (Scandals)

Posted By on Tue, Apr 7, 2009 at 3:19 PM

Ah, the rites of spring! April showers. May flowers. Birds. Bees. Date rape.

On April 17, St. Michael's College will celebrate its annual spring concert with performances by Grammy-nominated rapper Lupe Fiasco, up-and-coming opening act Asher Roth and, apparently, a little controversy.

For the uninitiated, Roth is the proud owner of the current #12 Billboard single for his pandering, sophomoric anthem "I Love College," which espouses the many-splendored virtues of higher education, such as drinking, boozing, gettin' wasted and . . . um, more drinking. There are also numerous references to that most time-honored of ivy-walled traditions, the drunken hookup. Though to his his credit, Roth does caution, "But not if she's too far gone." And they say chivalry is dead.

That Roth has been invited to perform at the college has, perhaps predictably, invited a veritable shit storm of criticism upon the event's organizers, the Student Association Executive Board. In a scathing editorial published in the school's online Arts & Culture journal The Naked Opinion, editor and 7D What's Good blogger, Tyler Machado offers this succinct summation, "I'm disappointed that the S.A. thought that this was the best act to bring to campus. Roth's persona confirms all the worst stereotypes about college students and their childish obsession with partying."

He goes on to state that, "I don't despise Roth's hit song because of some moral objection to drinking, smoking marijuana or partying. I despise the song because it's incredibly stupid." Point, Machado. Roth's single is a classic example of pop music pandering to the lowest common denominator. Not to mention that it's the most blatant stylistic ripoff of Eminem since . . . well, maybe ever.

In a campus-wide letter from the S.A., they attempt to deflect blame, inferring that the decision to book Roth as the opening act rested with Fiasco's agent, whose "first recommendation" was the PA-based emcee. They correctly note that opening act preference is often deferred to the headliner in rider negotiations. But doesn't the word "first" imply there may be a "second" choice? The organization goes on to essentially plead the fifth, writing that they "had no idea this would become such a controversial issue."

Really? In the age of PCU — and at a Catholic school, no less — SA really expects us to believe that they didn't realize Roth's misogynistic portrayal of student life just might rile up the natives?

If that's the case, SA may be guiltier of something far beyond poor decision making. Based on the Billboard chart statistics they cite in the opening paragraph of their letter, SA is clearly aware of who Roth is. But if they really didn't believe students would object to his performance, then they either didn't take the time to investigate his music or worse, they did investigate, and simply didn't care.

So, SA, in case you haven't seen the video for "I Love College" yet, check it out here.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

Louder Than God

Posted By on Mon, Apr 6, 2009 at 6:27 PM

If Eric Clapton is God, then what does that make J Mascis? I'm pretty sure he's not Satan. Much too humble to be the Prince of Darkness. Zeus? Nah, he's just a guy. A guy who fronts one of the loudest bands on the planet, Dinosaur Jr. His band returned to Higher Ground Saturday night and delivered a hits-heavy performance that shook the place to the rafters.

Dinosaur Jr is back to its original lineup of Mascis on guitar and vocals, Lou Barlow on bass and Murph on drums. Yes, they're a little older; J's hair is grey, Murph's hair is gone, and the tempo on some of the songs is a little slower, but they can still bring it like its 1987.

The secret to their success is J's guitar playing. In contrast to his mellow stage presence, Mascis attacks his instrument with passion, spitting out deafening leads and massive riffage. His tools of trade are his signature Fender Jazzmaster, three ginormous Marshall stacks, and a phase pedal.

They opened on the softer side with "Severed Lips," off their 1985 debut album Dinosaur. It's as if they were trying to build up the audience's tolerance before ripping out their eardrums. Next was "The Lung" from You're Living All Over Me, their second and arguably best record. They played several more songs from both these albums during the rest of the set, along with a couple new tunes from the forthcoming Farm and a generous smattering of crowd-pleasers like "Freak Scene," "Out There" and "Feel The Pain." Barlow provided the between song chatter and took lead vocals for "Back To The Heart" and the classic "Forget The Swan." The show ended triumphantly with the one-two punch of "Kracked" and "Sludgefeast."

Dino Jr. was by far the loudest band I have heard at Higher Ground. Not only was my chest pounding to the rhythm, I could feel it in my feet through the floor. The house was a rockin', and the audience loved every minute of it. At times the sound verged on breaking up into so much white noise. This is all by design, of course. I mean, how many other bands sell earplugs at the merch table? (Editor's note: HG always has earplugs available -DB)  I brought my own plugs, but my ears were still ringing when I got home.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Randomization

Posted By on Thu, Apr 2, 2009 at 6:01 PM

It's maybe the most beautiful day of the year so far. I'm stuck behind my desk, at least for another hour. A desk I'll be chained to for most of what promises to be a stellar live music weekend. Sounds like a recipe for a randomized scattershot blog post. Let's do this.

The new Akron/Family disc landed on my desk today. Three words: sofa king good.

A long time ago, I promised my half-crazy, half-pit bull, Buckley that I'd never make him wear a sweater, a spiked collar or booties. Last week, he hurt his paw and had been limping pretty badly. The pain didn't seem to be going away, so I took him to the vet yesterday and they gave me some powder to put on his pads to ease the inflammation. They then informed me that he would have to wear a bootie over the paw to protect it and keep him from licking the wound. And also one on the opposite paw for balance/fashionable symmetry. You know that herky-jerky sort of way the Muppets walk when you can see their legs? That's Buck at the moment. With purple booties. I'm so, so sorry, little buddy.

I probably shouldn't go because I'm writing next week's cover story, but I'm unusually excited for Dinosaur Jr. on Saturday. Couldn't tell you why, exactly. I just am.

Though I know I won't, I should also probably remain inside Friday night, which might be the most jam-packed evening of local music in recent memory. I wrote about Nose Bleed Island's CD release at The Bakery in my column this week. And there's been plenty o' Farm love in the paper lately too — they're at The Monkey House with Lendway and Dark Nights of Camelot. (Note: Farm plays FIRST. You've been warned.) What I didn't tell you about was that Activists/Dictators are making a "surprise" appearance at the Bean following Blowtorch.

Speaking of Blowtorch, they finally have a MySpace page, and only 27 years after they got together!

So does this Bill Mullins project.

And this one. Can a Twitter feed be far behind?

Yes.

Also on Friday night are The Smittens — complete with Max Smitten! — at Parima. They'll be shooting footage for a Rob Hoier directed video for "100 Roses"  that night. As if that weren't enough, they'll be welcoming their good friends from Beantown, One Happy Island, with whom they'll be touring the UK this summer. I told you it was a busy night. To borrow a phrase, yow!

Did you know there is actually an article of clothing called the "Smitten?" It's like a Snuggie for your hands, but waaaay creepier. Check it out. I think we should take up a collection and donate a few to the band. Who's with me?

I want to start an acoustic ska/rocksteady band. I'm taking suggestions for names, ska puns strongly encouraged. Although I'll never actually name my band with a ska pun . . . again.

Unless it's REALLY funny.

Haven't confirmed this yet, but it comes from a reliable source: Liggy, the lighting dude from HG, has been hired to do lights for Wilco's summer tour. I knew I should have done stage crew instead of drama in high school.

Baseball starts in t-minus 3 days . . .

And finally, in regards to my last post, Starfucker is booked on 4/20!

But not in Burlington. They have an unpublicized college gig that night . . . damn. However, huge thanks to both Monkey House booking mogul Paddy Reagan and Tick Tick's Nick Mavadones for taking me seriously and actually looking into it, which I never, EVER imagined anyone would do on this one. Sometimes, I really do love this town.

And on that note, it's beer time.

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