by Jamie Cessford
It’s my own fault that my introduction to Dinosaur Jr.’s live performance was on the heroic Bug tour in 2011. They played a perfect set on that December evening, performing tracks that even the most casual of Dinosaur Jr. fan could relate to (i.e. me). Sure I’ve paid closer attention to the band since then, notably with newer releases Farm and I Bet on Sky, but when the band returned to Vancouver on September 30, 2016 to promote their latest record, Give A Glimpse of What Yer Not, I was woefully underprepared. Fortunately, a band as seasoned as Dinosaur Jr. can effortlessly integrate the new songs in with the old ones.
The one-two punch to open their set was a perfect example of this as they opened with early cut “Bulbs of Passion”, following it up with a selection of tracks off of their latest record. With such a long, storied discography behind them, J. Mascis, Murph, and Lou Barlow were fairly democratic in selecting tracks throughout their career. From “Freak Scene” to “Pieces”, the band gave the whole spectrum of fandom something to push and shove over. Murph and Barlow provided the energetic covering for Mascis’ dynamic and unrelenting guitarwork and solemn vocal delivery. Ending with a pair of covers (The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and Last Rights “Chunks”), Dinosaur Jr. dug deep into their own nostalgia as a credit to the crowd’s unwavering commitment to the band. As usual, the soft-spoken Mascis, was a man of few words, mainly delivering thanks and salutations to book end the set.
Few bands are as consistent as Dinosaur Jr. Their new songs are impactful and refreshing, despite adhering to the band’s tried and true style. As with most bands that make late-stage records, crowds tend to show up for what they know. Refusing to be a greatest-hits band, Dinosaur Jr. makes the new sound familiar, giving the people exactly what they didn’t know they wanted.