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Dinosaur Jr. @ Union Transfer.

October 30, 2012


Text and images by Brian Wilensky.

The majority of the shows at Union Transfer are all ages. Sometimes that means dealing with some fifteen year old kid who will throw a fit when you move in front of him during the show. Or it means that kid is at that show with his old man and you’ll be honored to stand with him. His father that is.

The latter was the scene Saturday night when Dinosaur Jr. came back to town on the last stop of their North American tour. J Mascis, Lou Barlow and Emmett “Murph” Murphy were out supporting their latest album, I Bet on Sky, which put them on the younger generation’s map when Tim Heidecker made his appearance in the video for “Watch the Corners.”

But it’s cool to see the older guys in the crowd move rigidly at the waist and headbang with their entire neck to Dino Jr. classics like Bug’s “Freak Scene,” and even deeper cuts like Dinosaur’s “Forget the Swan.” It’s especially great standing next to a kid who’s likely his son, since he’s getting protected by that graying headbanger pushing kids back into the pit when they get near.

Barlow sounded a bit like a dad in between songs too when he repeatedly told the youngsters in the crowd to be careful “slamdancing.” And maybe even dated himself when he said, “slamdancing.”

Do kids still call it that?

Besides, where’s the dancing these days? Everyone just bumps shoulders together in an alt/punk show pit in 2012. Those bridging the generation gap sang along with the hits, “Out There” and “Start Choppin,” from Where You Been, and of course “Feel the Pain,” from back in’94. They even played a song by Lou and Mascis’ first band, the hardcore driven Deep Wound. Actually they played it twice.

Sure, Barlow’s fatherly instincts dumped out a little. But Mascis, the brains behind it all, can still shred like he did before he turned into “J the Gray.” Since coming out of extinction three years ago, Dino Jr.’s kept alternative fuzz rock alive with their standout moments of solo-extending jams. Thanks for keeping the guitar solo alive, J.

Shearwater’s overly-romantic indie rock felt a bit shoegazey at times when they warmed up the crowd. It was ultimately driven by lead singer, Jonathan Meiburg’s coliseum-sized voice. However, in terms of size, Union Transfer’s stage looked to be a bit more than they were comfortable with, especially after their last Philly appearance was at Johnny Brenda’s.

Even though Barlow may sound like your father did when you were in high school and Mascis might look like the wise sage-like great grandfather you’ve only seen in photo albums, Dinosaur Jr. still rocks harder than most guys hitting the scene now.

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