With their quiet-loud dynamics, lackadaisical vocals and blistering distortion, Dinosaur Jr's early albums were something of a precursor to bands such as Nirvana and the Pixies which broke “alternative” music into the mainstream.

The band suffered an acrimonious split in 1989 with the departure of bassist Lou Barlow and was officially put to rest in 1995 by guitarist and singer J. Mascis. Despite lingering bitter feelings, 10 years later the band was ready to patch things up and release a well-regarded comeback ‘Beyond’.

That longevity explains why the conspicuously grey-haired couple in front of me in the box-office lineup was joking about being two decades older than most of the crowd, and why the 20-something security guard at the door asked me “What’s this band like, anyway?”

Once inside, the audience mingled amicably, with the senior generation opining that a refund would be in order of ears weren’t ringing for three days and the younger generation texting the same.

Lou Barlow was the first performer. Barlow is always an amusing solo act, with much witty banter exchanged with the crowd on his last visit here (around the time of his rapprochement with Mascis, in fact). For that Babylon show the audience was, however, there for him. He wasn't as jokey this time around. He actually baited the crowd a bit, first breaking off a song, then saying "Sorry if I distracted you from talking ..." to some persistent front-row yakkers. Later he yelled "Thanks for coming to the show!" He cheerfully played, however, a request from the audience (this time for 'Skull'), before finishing with "one you haven't heard before."

His performance was pleasant, but a solo act by someone playing a nylon string classical guitar and ukulele – even the headliner’s bassist – probably wasn’t what most of the crowd was there to see.

The following act, New York hippy psych-rockers got a warmer reception, and there were a few people swaying along like refugees from the Woodstock concert film to long jams of ‘Summer Magic’ and ‘Get Right Church’ (the latter featuring a guest appearance from Mascis on drums) off their latest album ‘Barn Nova’, even if they did on occasion get stretched out past the point of general interest.

Any audience ambivalence was washed away when the headliners emerged to loud cries of “Loooouuuu!” and cheers. Rather, two-thirds of the headliners. Drummer Emmett Jefferson “Murph” Murphy III has apparently done something that blocks his entry to Canada, so mop-haired drummer Kyle Spence from Mascis’ side project the Fog filled in. The band quickly launched into ‘Thumb’ from ‘Green Mind’, then worked their way through a 14-song list that stretched back all the way to their self-titled debut for the show-capping ‘Forget The Swan’. J. Mascis performed in a nook created by three Marshall Amplifier stacks and a travel case topped by a combo amplifier that served as a monitor. It obscured the view slightly from the left side of the stage, but may be the only way he can hear his own guitar. Barlow played most of the set with his bass slung around knee height, barring those times when he had to sing, such as ‘Imagination Blind’ from the band’s latest, ‘Farm.’ Meanwhile, Spence did an admirable job of emulating Murph’s epic pounding and crackling fills.

By the time ‘Out There’ from ‘Where You Been’ made an appearance, the younger part of the crowd was moshing – not with much ferocity, but enough for security to grab a few youngsters from the crowd for a stern talking-to.

They encored with their popular cover of the Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, finishing a set that was widely agreed to be both excellent and deafening.

Dinosaur Jr Set List:

The Lung
Imagination Blind
Get Me
Out There
Over It
Feel the Pain
Little Fury Things
I Don’t Wanna Go There
The Wagon
Freak Scene
Forget the Swan e


Just Like Heaven

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