The Triple Rock Social Club stunk of sweat and legacy as Dinosaur Jr. blasted to life. Blissed-out punk rockers from generations X, Y, and MySpace squished together to revel in a sonic beating by a band that manages to remain relevant years after their late '80s and early '90s grunge heyday. With little fanfare or between-song banter, Dinosaur Jr. came down atop the heads of the crowd with a rolling, thunderous crash that didn't let up until after they had set down their instruments and left the stage.
In a chance encounter while strolling down Cedar Avenue toward the rock club, my concert companion and I had the chance to meet Dinosaur Jr. bassist, Sebadoh frontman and all-around lo-fi rock legend Lou Barlow. "Do you have earplugs?" Barlow asked us, and while his worry over our aural safety seemed sweet and a little silly at the time, I soon understood his concern. On stage, lead singer J Mascis stood surrounded by giant stacks of Marshall amps, his long blond hair hanging perfectly straight around his unwavering face as he and his band mates bitch-slapped the audience with a wall of sound so loud it would leave unprotected ears ringing for days.
Mascis took on most of the vocal duties, but the lyrics never really took center stage. Instead, the trio worked together to produce a churning, pace-quickening beat. And just before the audience had a chance to get their heads bobbing in unison, the band would flip the room upside down with a stretched-out interlude or one of Mascis's many swooning, melodic guitar solos, the likes of which seemed to stop time all together.
After a long, teasing pause that separated the main set from the encore, Dinosaur Jr. returned to the stage to play a frenetic cover of The Cure's "Just Like Heaven," a moment that seemed to bring together the young and old fans in the room and cause everyone to writhe maniacally to the beat. Afterwards, the crowd was drenched and clamoring to get outside, glowing from the memorable evening and chattering fanatically before dissipating into the rainy night.