Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Review: Dino Jr. & Built to Spill

Disco Doom, a relatively unknown band from Zurich, Switzerland was the opening band for Saturday’s 90’s indie explosion at Stubb's. The Swiss rockers were a perfect addition to the full lineup with their mixture of instrumental distortion, exploding atmospheric rhythm, mesmerizing guitar vibrato and down-tempo vocals. Second on the list were Dinosaur Jr.’s bassist Lou Barlow & The Missing Men, which were sort of a back-up band for Barlow’s solo stuff. Serving double duty, Barlow mostly played songs off his new record Goodnight Unknown which was released earlier in the month. Despite stopping and restarting the opening track twice, the rest of the set ran smoothly.

Following were notoriously loud alt-rockers Dinosaur Jr. Fans unequipped with ear plugs found themselves covering their ears more often than not as guitarist J Mascis’ distorted sonic waves boomed loudly over the three Marshall quad cabinets behind him. Almost from the beginning, a rowdy mosh pit consisting of mostly younger men slamming and shoving into each other occupied the front of the stage. “Murph is sick, he has the flu” announced Barlow over the microphone which loud applause from the slew of varied demographic of younger-aged and “back in the day” fans. The crowd went wild when the trio played “Feel The Pain,” off their 1996 release Without a Sound, the band’s most commercially successful album. “I Don’t Wanna Go There,” off the new album Farm concluded the deafening performance.

Before Built to Spill, the evening’s headliners, came on stage, Chicago based poet Thax Douglas recited a few lines inspired by the band. Douglas is a notorious “rock poet” who has read poetry before other notable acts including Andrew Bird, the Arctic Monkeys, Guided by Voices, The Flaming Lips, Of Montreal, Wilco, The White Stripes and Modest Mouse to name a few. He has since moved to Austin and has been spotted around town reading poetry for acts such as Sunny Day Real Estate.

Several minutes later, Built to Spill emerged from the darkness and commenced with “Three Years Ago Today,” a track from their latest release There is No Enemy. They followed with crowd pleaser “Distopian Dream Girl,” which solicited dancing and singing from fans. Front man Doug Martsch uttered “thank you” almost after every song. Mid-set, guitarist Brett Netson went into a political rant stating that “tonight is the 80th Anniversary of the American Stock Market crash, we’re in the second” while he pointed at the apartment complexes around the venue. He then said, “the next two songs are for the Texas Liberals.” The first of the two was “Wherever you Go,” a very jam and spacey melodic track off their 2006 release You in Reverse followed by “Planting Seeds” off of recent album There is No Enemy.

“We’re going to have to skip a song,” announced Martsch before going into “Big Dipper.” After finishing and thanking the audience, the band walked off stage only minutes to return to a crowding chanting “one more song, one more song.” “Stop the Show” from the band’s third album Perfect from Now On was the encore. The distorted chord progressions, swirly-psych riffling and upbeat drumming were a wonderful exit piece for a night of mind-blowing and eardrum busting music.

All photos by Ed Lehmann. Go to to see more.