To celebrate one of the seminal indie rock albums Dinosaur Jr. (along with friends) pulled out all the stops in an epic show at NYC’s Terminal 5 last Saturday night. J Mascis Lou Barlow and Murph’s stone cold classic You’re Living All Over Me, turned 25 this year so to commemorate the disk the band advertised that they would be playing YLAOM in its entirety and other music spanning their career at this show only.
Opening with Suzanne Thorpe accompanying the trio on a fantastic version of “Thumb” proved from the first notes that this was going to be a special night. After this the band began “Little Fury Things” with guest Lee Ranaldo on vocals, reprising his role from the original recording sessions for the album a quarter of a century ago. Never looking back the trio proceeded to light the stage up with their in synch fireworks. Barlow in particular whirled around strumming his bass for all it was worth during “Kracked” as Mascis gave the riff-tastic “Sludgefeast” every ounce of shredding the classic deserves.
The solo in “Raisans” wanted to go all night as the band thundered along but they reined it in for “In a Jar” which screeched to sweet heights. The two Barlow penned tracks to close the disk are incredibly different but both were faithfully executed as “Lose” rocked while Lou took the stage solo armed only with his ukulele for the album closing “Poledo”.
Seeing this great album performed so energetically would have been a successful and satisfying show in itself but the group was just getting started as J and Murph reemerged with guest Frank Black. Barlow was excited to point out Black learned one of the bands new songs as Black played and sang lead vocals on “Almost Fare”. Black sounded great on the calypso tinged affair before the foursome tackled The Pixies “Tame” as the venue exploded with crowd surfers.
J Mascis was then joined by Harvey Milk’s Kyle Spence on drums, Al Cisneros from Sleep on bass and Kurt Vile on extra guitar. The new group got it’s spaced out psychedelic drone on for the underrated “Alone” from Hand It Over that was excitingly extended. The original trio returned for a few I Bet On Sky songs, including the chugging “Watch The Corners” which held its own with any of the classics on display.
More guests kept arriving as Johnny Marr from The Smiths and Kevin Drew from Broken Social Scene augmented the band for “The Wagon” with Drew taking over lead vocals brilliantly. This combo then ran through The Smiths “The Boy With The Thorn In His Side” to the delight of both the fans and the players.
J and Lou then took things back as far from the pop of The Smiths as possible with the cut “Training Ground” from their first band Deep Wound. Lou stated “This song is about not going to college” as Dale Crover from The Melvin’s pounded the drums. The hardcore vibe continued as Velvet Monkey frontman Don Fleming took over lead vocals for the Iron Cross classic “Crucified”.
Then the house was torn down by a set closing version of “Don’t” that saw Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth pour pure vocal fury into the microphone shouting the lyrics to a massive, cathartic finale; don’t worry Kim, we all like you. After that demonic display of force the encore was certainly secondary but still provided joy as the band tackled The Stooges “TV Eye” before finishing with their tunes, “Still Choppin” and the appropriate “Freak Scene” to end. The song contains the climatic line, “Don’t let me fuck up will you/Cause when I need a friend its still you.”
With a good number of those friends helping out tonight the band was magical. sometimes these affairs are cluttered and flow poorly, but Dinosaur Jr. and company delivered the goods, proving they still have much to offer going forward.