Last night I ventured out to Harrah's casino in Northern Kansas City where Dinosaur Jr was playing at the Voodoo Lounge. Slot machines, buffets, old people converting social security checks into rolls of quarters, and signs advertising Toby Keith's I Love This Bar & Grill are some of the last things I thought I would see walking into a Dinosaur Jr show, but I saw them. I really did. The Voodoo Lounge, it turns out, is a really nice venue - good sound, nice lightning, spacious, and decked out with two long bars and a chill lounge area in the back. The crowd during the opening act, Awesome Color, was rather sparse on the floor. I was feeling this Michigan trio by the end of their first song and it sucked to look around and see people looking bored, impatient, and removed. Hey Kansas City, when the opening band is killing it you're supposed to DIE, not act all bored and shit.
Awesome Color has a bass player with hair like a young Bob Dylan, a drummer who looks really young and just like a kid I used to watch skate back in '89, and a singer who (in my opinion) should front the band Grizzly Bear if Grizzly Bear was a band that sounded like the name suggests. The singer stands up on his heels and ROARS into the mic, and it's just, well, it's just like a pissed off grizzly bear about to attack. The singer also plays guitar and twice during the set he took a small amp and placed it right by the neck of his guitar and made some wicked feedback. These guys are Noise Monsters in the making, and since they are watching Dinosaur Jr's shows every night they are only going to get better after studying the best Noise Monsters of all.
Dinosaur Jr fans, self-included, have been waiting for ten long-ass years for all three original members to come together for an album and a tour. Last night I concluded that it was worth the wait. There is something magical about these three guys together. Beneath all the raw sound there is eloquent and instinctive playing among the trio. They use their Marshall amps like a Scientologist uses an E-Meter and J's guitar playing live is mind-blowing - like a T-Rex battling a gang of rabid Veloceraptors. The album is amazing, but hearing the songs live is next level.
The one disappointment I had with this show is the sound quality of the vocal mics. While the instruments all sounded top-notch with both bands, it was difficult to hear any lyrics, regardless of who was singing. Awesome Color is light on lyrics and heavy on noise, so it wasn't such an issue during their set but it was annoying during Dinosaur Jr's set. This didn't, however, stop me, or the crowd from enjoying their show.
During "Back to Your Heart" (one of two songs Lou sings on from Beyond) some faces were melted. The band just grinded the hell out the song and I'm pretty sure my mouth dropped in awe at this point. It was after this song that some dude in the crowd began requesting "Freak Scene" after every song until he was satisfied. During the encore one fan jumped up on stage and bowed down to each member before security escorted him out. It was the last song of the night so he didn't care and he was wearing a very satisfied grin as he left. I failed to recognize or get the name of the second encore song because my face melted and I was too busy thinking, "These guys are fucking aliens...Alien Noise Monsters." They ended their show with pure noise. I have no idea how in the hell they make some of the sounds they make, but I'm glad they make them. Between the stacks of Marshall amps and the sounds coming out of them the crowd could feel every note in their feet, legs, and arms. When I looked all around me I could see joy in people's eyes and I wondered if they too were thinking, "This is so worth the fucking wait."
"Been There All The Time"
"Back to Your Heart"
"Little Fury Things"
"This Is All I Came To Do"
"Feel The Pain"
"Forget The Swan"
Encore #1: "Yer Son"
Encore #2: Not sure, my face melted.