Cult status ages nicely. Newly reformed Dinosaur Jr. enjoyed the compounded interest in its vintage songs at a packed 9:30 club on Monday.
Before trademark lawyers got involved, the Boston-based band was known simply as Dinosaur, a fact that bassist Lou Barlow pointed out more than once during the show. The power trio (Barlow, J Mascis on guitar and Murph on drums) never had a commercial peak to speak of, but enjoyed its creative heyday in the late 1980s after cooking up a unique and fabulous recipe for slacker thrash: Mascis made the noise, Barlow carried the melody, and Murph rarely pounded out anything but a furious beat. With Mascis mumbling lyrics about life in loserdom, Dinosaur became Husker Du minus the screaming.
Monday's 70-minute set relied on material produced by Dinosaur's original lineup, which broke up in 1989 at the onset of a sort of ice age in the relationship between Mascis and Barlow. With an overall hippie demeanor and his really long hair turned gray, Mascis looked like a withered product of the stoned ages. But he made all the racket of a kid let loose in the effects-pedals section of a guitar store, favoring fuzz for some acid blues soloing during "Gargoyle" and wah-wahing on "Little Fury Things."
The chunkier "In a Jar" revealed itself as a precursor to the recordings Barlow made in the 1990s with Sebadoh, the band he formed after Dinosaur became extinct. The plodding "Bulbs of Passion" showed some Black Sabbath leanings.
Mascis, with a whine even Neil Young could envy, provided catharsis for the lovelorn on 1987's "Raisans": "I'll be hanging where eventually you'll have to be / I'll just stare and hope you'll care," he sang over his own power chords. This was the sound relied upon by so many of the grunge bands that showed up a few years after Dinosaur's dissolution.
-- Dave McKenna