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Dinosaur Jr. Care Not for Your Inner Ear

J Mascis does not want you to make friends. At least, that’s the impression you’d get from Dinosaur Jr.’s show last night (May 23) at Vancouver’s celebrated Commodore Ballroom. The guitarist/vocalist and his band — Lou Barlow (bass/vocals) and Murph (drums) — wormed their way back into the hearts of fans left hanging by the original lineup’s 1988 split by blasting their eardrums to smithereens. To wit: J Mascis does not want you to talk to anyone (to make friends), nor does he want you to be able to think. He only wants to level a rock’n’roll attack on you — a trademark move he’s used for over two decades now.

Following two lackluster openers, the Amherst, Mass. trio entered to a relieved cheer from the audience, who were equal parts young hipsters and older men trying to remember why they used to like this grunge stuff. Mascis emerged from behind amps every bit the apparition, slumped beneath whitening locks like a grumpy version of Cousin It. Immediately letting loose one of his signature guitar noodlings — at top volume — Mascis eschewed greeting those assembled in favor of an unrelenting, hour-long aural assault. He spoke only once directly to the crowd, answering a plea for “vocals” (presumably directed at the sound tech) with, “How could you want more vocals if there’s no guitar? You guys have been smoking PCP.”

And then: nothing, not for the rest of the set, which leaned heavily on songs from 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me and this year’s Beyond (the highlight being Living‘s kinetic “Little Fury Things”). There are 20 years between those releases, and Mascis tried admirably to close the gap. Tweaking nobs on a wall of amps, he seemed to defiantly crank the volume as the thinning crowd scattered to save their eardrums. For their part, Barlow and Murph played diligently, like a couple of guys who hadn’t been absent from the band, ever. For our part, we tried our best to save our eardrums from J Mascis’ blistering blast. KAITLIN FONTANA / PHOTOS BY ALAN STREMEL

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