Dinosaur Jr

support Wild Style Lion
author PP date 09/11/16 venue Amager Bio, Copenhagen, DEN

It's an older audience in presence tonight as alternative rock veterans Dinosaur Jr are paying a visit to a nearly sold out Amager Bio tonight. It's the kind of crowd that probably hasn't checked out a new band or new music for at least five, more likely ten years, and only show up when one of their old favorites comes by. Not exactly an ideal setting for Dinosaur Jr to opt to play the majority of their brand new album, which is reflected in the rather lackluster crowd dynamic this evening. More on that later.

Wild Style Lion

Tonight's support band, Germany's Wild Style Lion, has been handpicked by Dinosaur Jr frontman J Mascis himself. Other than him featuring on guitar on the studio recording of "No President" off their debut album, I can't figure out why the support slot is wasted on these guys. They are a duo that specializes in avant-garde noise characterized by droning electronics, industrial style. A guitarist armed with a multitude of effects pedals resulting in strange sounds and a howling singer, whose second job is to adjust electronics that range from static noise to zap effects from a cheesy sci-fi flick, are playing in front of an empty hall as most people have (wisely) elected for late arrival instead of wasting their time on whatever the hell it is Wild Style Lion are trying to do. On stage, they are standing in almost totally static stance, and there are times where I am genuinely not sure whether the singer is trying to communicate with aliens or to play music. It sounds atrocious. In between songs, the crowd is puzzled and essentially slow claps because there isn't a soul watching who's actually enjoying this. It's symbolic of their miserably bad soundscape that when the guitarist tries to saw his guitar against the amp at one point, no sound at all comes out. It's an exercise in futility that leaves me dumbfounded how or why this group is even a band at all. It's been years since I saw a crowd standing this still and not giving a fuck about a band, or since I've seen a performance as awful as this one. Thirty minutes felt like a lifetime.

2

Dinosaur Jr.

Dinosaur Jr? More like Dinosaur Senior based on the long, white hair of J Mascis who's turning 50 years old next month. The venue is packed to its limits with the balcony full of people as well as the band eases us into the set with a lengthy, mostly instrumental piece "The Lung" followed by some signature style, slower alternative rock jamming on "Get Me" afterward. While Mascis spends the entire set standing still in front of his microphone defying the sheer joy of playing that his guitar otherwise oozes of on record, bassist Lou Barlow is having the time of his life with an expression that suggests he's loving every second of playing tonight. "Goin' Down", one of the best tracks off the new record, kicks things up a notch thanks to its faster tempo and awesome guitar tone. It is followed by "I Told Everyone" that likewise features a rock-solid sound that's just super likable from the get go. "Love Is...", the classic rock sounding cut from the new album, isn't as good, but the crowd starts waking up for an older classic, "The Wagon", which incidentally the first (and almost the only) song of the night that appears recognized by the crowd.

And herein lies a hint about the key issue of tonight's show: lack of highlights. For the next 75 minutes or so, Dinosaur Jr's guitar-driven melody overdrive is playful in its nature and buzzing in its simplistic but charming soundscape, but the show never really picks up at any point. There is zero interaction between the band and the crowd tonight, which results in a decent, but drawn out set where the crowd is virtually dead and wow moments are missing. There's no denying that Dinosaur Jr have written some truly excellent songs throughout their extensive career, but tonight's set just strolls along autopilot style and lacks of any true highlights. In the end, we'll have witnessed roughly 90 minutes of a nostalgia-driven alternative rock sound, but without too much to write home about. For a nearly sold-out show, it's surprising how anemic the whole experience felt thinking about it in retrospect.

Setlist:

  • 1. The Lung
  • 2. Get Me
  • 3. Goin Down
  • 4. I Told Everyone
  • 5. Love Is...
  • 6. The Wagon
  • 7. Watch the Corners
  • 8. Pieces
  • 9. Tiny
  • 10. Feel the Pain
  • 11. Little Fury Things
  • 12. Knocked Around
  • 13. Start Choppin
  • 14. I Walk for Miles
  • 15. Freak Scene
  • 16. Forget the Swan
  • --Encore--
  • 17. Repulsion
  • 18. In a Jar

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