Monday, August 17, 2009



COUNT ME AMONG yesterday's teeming multitudes flocking to the last Summerstage show of the year. The price was right (free) to see two pretty good indie/alternative acts -- the Walkmen and Dinosaur Jr. -- as was the locale (Central Park). And if nobody is around to remember it or mythologize it in 40 years like a certain anniversary that just passed, then so be it; that's okay too.

The plan was to get to the Park at around 2:00, so that by 2:30 we were already inside with a decent spot for when the first band, the Walkmen, came on at 3:00. But nooooooo! For whatever reason, the promoters snuck a third band in the lineup, a heavily tattooed, shaggy-haired, leather-clad heavy mental band calling themselves the Saviours. They hit the stage at 3, and I can't say anyone was especially thrilled to see them remain there for the worse part of an hour.

The Walkmen were about what I expected, maybe a little better, especially when they used a 6- or 7-piece horn section on a few songs. One minor criticism is that too many of the songs were the same tempo. Toward the end of their set, they finally unleashed their best song -- The Rat -- a blistering new wave raver, and you wonder where that energy was the whole afternoon. Granted, the sun was beating down on everyone by then anyway, but still...

The headliners made it onstage a little after 5:00. By my highly unofficial account, they mixed in six classics from their first time around-- In a Jar, Freak Show, The Wagon, Out There, Feel the Pain and their scorching cover of the Cure's Just Like Heaven -- with stuff from the two newer albums. Farm (2009) and Beyond (2007).

Out There might be my single favorite Dinosaur Jr. song, with one of those patented J Mascis solos that sends chills up your spine like very few other living guitar players not named Neil Young. On the 1993 album (Where You Been), Out There leads right into the terrific Start Choppin, which unfortunately was nowhere to be heard yesterday. But I'm not gonna complain about getting my money's worth at a free show. What kind of example would that set for the kids?

6 comments:

Nazz Nomad said...

I really wanted to get to this show- it's the third time I've missed Dino Jr in the past few months. Too lazy to get off my ass and hit NYC from Lawn Guyland.
"Where You Been" is a masterpiece.

The Warden said...

Definitely worth the wait. The new album is surprisingly good.

justin said...

Can't say I have any experience with the Walkmen or Dinosaur Jr., but I am little jealous of your city life and having good bands just play in the park. Did want to say I really dig that Zappa quote/song you have in the side bar. I've started paying attention to the news again, somewhat thanx to you, and I really don't like this machine we're all part of. But then happy shows in the park can take us away from that for a moment, if only to remind us that there is a little bit of good going on in a world that is not good.

The Warden said...

Justin, I'm surprised you don't know Dinosaur Jr. Youtube is a good intro if you wanna get an idea of their sound.

Just found the first Mothers of Invention, Freak Out!, in the library. Perhaps the first rock concept album. Trouble Every Day is so relevant now, it's scary.

ib said...

Ah, damn... sounds like it would have been fun. Hard to pin down a favourite with Dinosaur Jr, but... What ? No 'Thumb' ?

Actually I have always been a sucker for J's live cover of 'The Boy With The Thorn In His Side' from 'Martin + Me'; I saw him in acoustic set a number of years ago here in Glasgow. Nice gig, albeit sadly indoors, and - alas - not so free.

Thanks for painting the scene, warden; nice one.

The Warden said...

Thanks, ib. I was secretly hoping they'd break out their stellar version of Peter Frampton's Show me the Way. Maybe they did and I was stuck in a Portasan at the time...