The words “legends” gets thrown around quite a bit these days, but I truly believe Dinosaur Jr. are wholly worthy of the title – and with this Autumn really shaping up to be a gigantic concert season again for rock music in Aarhus, for me, this Thursday is beyond a shadow of a doubt, the highlight.
Dinosaur Jr. of course are quite the anomaly in the rock world. They are a band that did what seemingly every band does or will do at some point and reform. The difference between Dinosaur and just about every other band that’s rebooted in history is… It’s actually good. Nostalgia is a cruel mistress, but a big draw – dusting off the old gear so folks can re-live their younger days is big business – but artistically, it’s a tricky road to go down. Dinosaur Jr’s story is not exactly unique – releasing three key albums in the mid to late 80s that have since gone down as an extremely essential link between the punk/grunge/hardcore/shoegaze/powerpop genres, firing a founding member (bass player and co-lead singer Lou Barlow), continuing to mainstream glory and then dwindling down essentially to one all controlling member (J. Mascis). In 2005, beating many of the 80s and 90s band to since reform, Dinosaur Jr – without much hoopla I might add, put out a record with the original line-up, putting aside a notoriously acrimonious falling out – and hit the road. Unlike the myriad of other bands, seemingly coming back and playing a few gigs and maybe putting out a lacklustre album, Dino Jr did the unthinkable; came back better and stronger than ever.
Coming back and blowing people’s expectations out of the water like that is pretty much unprecedented. That wasn’t enough though – they’re still back, and now on their 4th album since the reunion, and it’s probably the best one of their second chapter.
This year’s “Give A Glimpse Of What Yer Not” not only harks back to the original 80s material – but possibly improves and expands on it. The record seriously doesn’t have a bum song on it, and includes some of the most passionate and jarring performances by each member. It no longer seems a little like work – it feels like everyone is totally into this now. The recent tour since release of the record has seen Dinosaur Jr. doing all kinds of press and interplay together, which historically has been a kind of non-starter for a band that may or may not be on the outs with each other. It’s not exactly the Beatles doing cheeky skits in hotel conference rooms, but I get a real sense that these guys more than just tolerate each other’s company. Aside from that, they seem to be in their most productive and prolific phase as a band, and in Mascis and Barlow’s case – solo – both releasing solo projects and side-lines in between band albums, which have become increasingly challenging.
I saw Dinosaur Jr. last time they were in town three years ago. It truly was a show that still sticks out in my mind. It isn’t like they put on a show as such – playing the game, talking and shit, laser beams and confetti – they just fucking blew the roof off Voxhall. No one else sounds like Dinosaur Jr.. It was one of the loudest shows I can recall seeing, and a show that was perfectly balanced between new material that was actually well received and old classics. They’ve never been the jolliest bunch on the planet, but one can forgive a lot with that level of power behind a body of work that rivals pretty much any band of their ilk in history.
I don’t know how much longer Dinosaur Jr. can keep this up. Again, it’s just unprecedented what they’re doing and I’m going to recommend you just get your ass down there on Thursday and check it out.
Tickets are still up for grabs from Voxhall for 280 dkk. Support on the night is from Wild Style Lion (also worth checking out big time) and doors are at 20.00 and show at 21.00.