I swear I would probably enjoy live music if it consisted of a band of 13 rabid chimpanzees playing show tunes on six accordions, six sets of bagpipes, and an out-of-tune harpsichord with Tony Danza on lead vocals. I just dig live performance of any kind. Needless to say, Dinosaur Jr. rocked way harder than any diseased, harpsichord-thumping chimp ever dreams to. And chimps dream big, believe me. So does Tony Danza.
Before I tell you about the face melting I received at the hands of indie guitar hero J. Mascis, let me tell you about the Valarium. We had the pleasure last night, along with opening acts 1220 and Awesome Color, of popping the cherry on this new facility. Located in a refurbished old brick warehouse, the Valarium is close to downtown, but surrounded by empty lots that have been turned into ample free parking. Free parking at a concert venue? Who ever heard of such a thing? The inside is decidedly swank, with brand-new everything. Wall to wall carpeting, red drapes covering every wall (for acoustics, I’m sure), state-of-the-art lighting and easy to find restrooms. You could easily cram several thousand onto both the floor and a balcony that featured comfy, bench-style sofa seating with little tables replete with candles. Is this a rock concert or a yuppie tapas bar? Either way, nice touch. Outside to the right of the stage were the bar, featuring an efficient single-file line set-up that eliminated the elbow-throwing usually required to procure a beer from an overwhelmed bartender, and the smoking patio. This brings me to the best part: no smoking inside. That brand-new carpeting should remain free of cigarette burns for some time and I didn’t have to dump my clothes directly into the washing machine when we got home. All around, an impressive debut for whoever sunk some serious cash into opening the Valarium.
On to the rock. 1220, a local act, featured a lead singer in a Rolling Stones t-shirt prone to 80’s-style wailing on songs that, had they been written by Warrant in 1988, would have been Warrant’s best work. Do we need another cock-rock revival band? Did we need any? Not my thing. Awesome Color was more my speed, playing harder and faster, and without the verse-chorus-verse structure that can make a song predictable. Courtney didn’t like them at all. And then came the Dinosaur.
For those who don’t know, Dinosaur Jr. are confirmed elder statesmen of indie rock. They can kick it hard without even trying. With no fanfare or dimming of the lights, J, Lou, and Murph took the stage and assumed their positions: Murph at his drum kit right up front and center, Lou on bass to his left and indie guitar hero J. Mascis on the right, esconced in his horseshoe-shaped six-foot high amphitheater of Marshall amps. The man must like to feel the noise. After a few seconds of adjusting knobs and mic stands and not even a glance of acknowledgement to the crowd, the band launched into an ear-bleeding 14 song performance mixing old and new and hitting all the favorites along the way. Indie guitar hero J. Mascis lived up to his reputation, absolutely slaying us with fast-fingered and soulful axe-work behind his ubiquitous long, silver indie guitar hero locks. Lou played an energetic bass with a peculiar style in which he spent a lot of time high up on the neck of his guitar. Murph, bald head beaded with sweat, beat the hell out of his skins like any good drummer should.
The two-song encore saw the band taking requests from the enthusiastic crowd, although I suspect they already knew what they were going to play. Then again, the guitar tech was standing by with two different guitars for indie guitar hero J. Mascis, which he didn’t end up using, so maybe they really were open to suggestions. The final song was their cover of the Cure’s "Just Like Heaven," which, faithful readers may recall from a few weeks back, is number one on my list of top five songs. Nice finish.
Aside from the drunk Jim Breuer impersonator who stood in front of me for the first half of the show wildly pumping his fist when he wasn’t taking video with his camera and saying stupid shit to his friends like "Dude, that guy with the gray hair is just surrounded by WAAAAHHHHHHH!" (That guy with the gray hair? You must be referring to indie guitar hero J. Mascis. Show some respect, bitch!), it was a freakin’ awesome show.
1. If Courtney is at a concert and a space opens up in front of her, she must step forward or Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will move in to fill the void. On your toes, Courtney.
2. Ear plugs are a must. I could actually hear the individual instruments and most of the vocals throughout the show and my hearing is back to 100% this morning. I’d be deaf right now if it weren’t for those 49.5 cents worth of foam.
3. Rock and roll will never die.
With that, NaBloPoMo reaches a hard rockin’ conclusion, but this blog will live on. I may not post every day, but I intend to try because this was just too much fun. Thanks to all who have stopped by and encouraged or criticized with your comments. Keep coming back. I’m taking the weekend off. Maybe.