Holy crap, I just saw Dinosaur Jr. play a free show on a backyard porch with Dale Crover from the Melvins on drums. If you don’t get it, that’s sort of like seeing AC/DC with Jon Bonham, Metallica with Dave Lombardo, or you get the idea. Nothing against the real lineup–which rules–but this was a rad, one-time event that you had to be at.
It was a promotional event put on by Marshall Headphones and it worked. First of all, I didn’t know that the much-respected amp brand made headphones and now I do. Yes, they look cool and sound great. Secondly, J Masics is famous for blasting Marshall, so the gig wasn’t a stretch by any means. Nothing weird about him playing in front of a bunch of amps with that logo on it.
There was another band called Family Rain that book-ended the show. They came all the way from England and played tight-as-hell blues rock. Seemed like nice chaps, too, but it was hard for me to concentrate knowing that a once-in-a-lifetime lineup of Dinosaur Jr. was coming up.
Actually, the invite listed a J Mascis set among the festivities. It wasn’t until I saw O’s Instagram photo of Dale Crover that I knew there would be some Melvins action. And I didn’t realize that Dino co-founder/Sebadoh honcho Lou Barlow was part of the deal until I got there. Hot damn!
The trio started with some “Heavy Blanket” jamming and played a brief but heavy (and LOUD) sampling from the Barlow eras that culminated in “Sudgefeast.” The contrast of J Mascis’s trance-like cosmic jamming and Barlow’s rock ‘n’ roll shredding is timeless, with the animalistic drumming of Crover adding something new. And in this case, unrehearsed. Of course I’ll always love and appreciate Murph’s pound-and-ground style, but this was a different way to have one’s eardrums blown that we’ll only experience once. Yes, you really did have to be there, and I was right in front.
When the dust settled, I even saw some friends. Shredder on the skateboard and axe Don Nguyen just got back from New York City, where he and his band Arctic just recorded some ripping jams of their own. He introduced me to his pal photographer Jason Lee Parry, whose B&W prints were on display at No Vacancy. Parry was stoked that his old-time Hollywood photography fit pretty well in the old Victorian-style house converted into a club that sorta resembles the Magic Castle. And then there was O, who handles sound for Dino but is a kick-ass musician, photographer, skateboarder, and set list scribbler on his own. What a pleasure to hang with one of the nicest guys around, and to benefit from his tech skills in making sure the backyard show sounded great.
Bonus review: Did I ever share pics of Channel Three opening for 7Seconds at The Roxy? I’ve seen the band at so many converted theaters and dive bars (and our Save Music in Chinatown matinee) but can’t remember ever seeing them in a proper venue on a “real” stage and sound system. The greatest guys with the best Clash-meets-Cheap Trick songs, and their very real friendship and chops are an unbeatable combination. After some car trouble, I was stoked to catch their last four of five songs and of course they ended with “I Got a Gun.” Perfect! One of my favorite bands, some of my favorite dudes.
If you read this blog, you already know how much I love the new 7Seconds record and what a rad guy Kevin Seconds is. What I can add is that the new songs sound even better live and that the band doesn’t skimp on their hardcore classics in their live set. “Walk Together, Rock Together,” “The Crew,” “Not Just Boys’ Fun,” “99 Red Balloons”–they’re all in the very long set list and if you don’t get in the circle pit or sing along, well, maybe you should.
7Seconds and CH3 are playing together in Oakland this weekend. Friends up north, you gotta catch that double bill (and CH3 with RAD in Sacto, too). What’s going on down here? White Dove, Nick Cave, TSOL, Boris, and anything else I need to know about?