Sunday, 6 February 2011

786 DINOSAUR JR. Built To Spill, Oxford Carling Academy, Saturday 8 May 2010

This one - a late call due to Evan deciding not to come down for the weekend - was also an unfortunate first; after my dodgy knee collapsed this morning, this became the first gig I attended with a walking stick! Crikey!

Tim picked me up at 6 and we hit the venue very early, grabbing a drink and catching up as the venue filled. First band on for this joint-headliner gig was US alt-indie veterans Built To Spill, a band featuring on a long list of bands I really should like but don't, along with the likes of Pavement, Guided By Voices, The Beatles (!) etc. etc. Their set started off unobtrusively, with some Death Cab For Cutie-lite melody, which neither overwhelmed or underwhelmed, but just "whelmed". Thereafter, their hour long set became dull, clumsy and interminable, and Tim and I were glad to have bumped into Mark and Andy, to provide some respite by chatting!

We stayed in our good viewing position at the back of the venue, behind the mixing desk, for Dinosaur Jr., on at 9.15 prompt. Last heard (or endured) by these ears 5 years ago, when time and a flippin' great wodge of cash had healed all wounds, bringing back together the original line-up of mainman and gnarled noisenik J Mascis, Sebadoh frontman and sensitive indie boy Lou Barlow, and meaty and metronomic drummer Murph, they'd since soldiered on as a functioning unit, dragging out a couple of new CDs. Tonight, however, these were largely ignored in favour of a retro set of their relentlessly noisy, viscerally exciting yet laid-back and laconic slacker laze-rock, delivered by an immobile yet furiously riffing J and the pounding rhythm section, with Lou the main visual focal point, flinging his mop of curly hair around with abandon. An early "Lung" was an unexpectedly groovy pleasure, and "Feel The Pain" brought back Level 3 mid-90's memories with its' pace changes and wig-out strident chorus. The best was saved for last, though, with a final oldie triumvirate of "Little Fury Things"; a brilliantly delivered and seriously groovy "Raisans", the highlight of the night for me in the sad absence of my favourite Dinosaur number "The Wagon"; and the inevitable "Freak Scene", a little sloppy but well received by the mosh, J leaving the final hook open for the Dinosaur massive to sing along.

Overall a fine set, worth the pain and hassle of the walking stick. Dinosaur Jr. on cruise and collect mode maybe, but still prime purveyors of "ear bleeding country"!

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