Dinosaur Jr LouFest 2012: Orange Stage Saturday, August 25
The Dinosaur Jr diehards moved in as soon as the Son Volt crowd moved out. Claiming rib-bruising spots against the metal crowd-control fence, they stood patiently -- prepared to wait out Phantogram's electro-beeps blazing in the distance from across the lawn. Their determination paid off an hour or so later when these fans had a front row spot to witness one of the most respected bands of the alternative era take the stage.
Dinosaur Jr regularly plays to tens of thousands at behemoth European festivals, so to see the band at a comparatively tiny outdoor concert like LouFest is a luxury. Weather conditions were questionable and thunderstorms threatened for the better part of the afternoon, but a cool breeze picked up and the rain (an annoying, but not drenching drizzle) stopped just a few minutes into Dino's set, right after bassist Lou Barlow encouraged the crowd to chant the name of the drummer. ("Murph! Murph! Murph!") The stagehands looked relieved and everybody stopped eyeing the thin protective plastic wrapped around the band's massive pedal boards.
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Barlow began the show with a smile and mumbled something about how he heard that rain doesn't mix with electricity. Nearly half of the audience was busy putting in ear plugs during that moment, preparing for the massive sonic blast that was to come. Dinosaur Jr is a notoriously loud band and just because there is no roof over the venue does not mean that the crowd can escape the noise. This show, however, seemed (mercifully) quieter than some past shows, and the deafening, esophagus rattling blasts were only endured by those in the first few rows.
The generous time slot (an hour an a half, at sunset) was used in full and the crowd was showered with nothing but hits. The set began with "Thumb," ended with "Sludgefeast" and included songs from nearly every Dino album since its self-titled debut in 1985. The band played nearly half of the songs on its 1987 classic album, You're Living All Over Me, to the great delight of those in attendance.
As far as individual songs, the shifting tempo change in the live version of "Feel the Pain" is always interesting to hear when compared to the album version, the glow of the red stage lights during "Out There" can make one feel slightly hypnotized and "Little Fury Things" seemed to get the biggest reaction and the most enthusiastic clapping from the fans.
The LouFest crowd was also given a rare treat when the band played a cover of Deep Wound's "Training Ground." Deep Would was the high school band of guitarist J. Mascis and bassist Lou Barlow and the song sounded predictably punk. A joyous mini-pit broke out in front, with fans running in small circles and hug-slamming each other.
The band members, themselves, were in fine form. Murph's drumming was on point and he got to show off a little, especially during "Feel the Pain." J Mascis was appropriately shy and subtly funny, ducking out next to the speakers and then explaining that he had to look up the setlist on his iPhone. (And his silver unicorn hair is always a delight to see.) But the man of the day was Lou Barlow. It was LouFest, he pointed out. He killed during "Forget the Swan" and his bass provided clear and distinct thumping as he beamed and strangled the neck. He seemed to be having a great time and after his show he could even be seen standing on stage and sporting a bemused smile as he looked across the baseball fields and watched the crowd groove to Girl Talk.
Dinosaur Jr at LouFest: Setlist "Thumb" "The Lung" "Back to Your Heart" "No Bones" "Budge" "Training Ground" (Deep Wound cover) "Tarpit" "Little Fury Things" "Out There" "Feel the Pain" "The Wagon" "Freak Scene" "Just Like Heaven" (Cure cover) "Forget the Swan" "Kracked" "Sludgefeast"