Live: Dinosaur Jr. Leave “Billie Jean” Alone at the Music Hall of Williamsburg


Dinosaur Jr.
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Thursday, June 25

Dinosaur Jr. did bring up Michael Jackson from the stage last night, frontman/guitar wizard J. Mascis muttering something about Farah Fawcett and MJ and, later, when Lou Barlow took requests: “What are we gonna play? ‘Billie Jean,’ perhaps.” They did not, thankfully, covers of Michael Jackson at this stage falling definitively into the too soon category, along with pedophilia jokes and plastic surgery jokes and Mark Sanford jokes and the Funk Flex ticket giveaways that kept interrupting HOT97’s tribute on the radio last night. The audience responded with respectful silence, mostly, silence being a relative term when you’re at a Dino Jr. show, and feedback is a screaming constant, even between songs.

Not that one needs an occasion to attend a Dinosaur Jr. show, but we’ve gathered at the Music Hall of Williamsburg to celebrate the release of Farm, the trio’s stirring second comeback record. “Never stop!” yells some joker, as the band emerges, Mascis flipping the fifteen or so switches that will fully activate the three-sided wall of amplifiers inside of which he’ll spend most of the night, soloing. They haven’t, of course–the band came to the MHOW by way of the Jimmy Fallon show, where they’d gamely performed and pretended to wreck their dressing room just hours earlier, a stunned looking Rachel Evan Wood looking on.

It doesn’t really matter which song Dinosaur Jr. are playing, up on stage–“Feel the Pain” elicits roughly the same cheer as the new song they did on Fallon, “Pieces,” with everything earlier and in between (“Raisans,” Beyond standout “Pick Me Up”) falling somewhere on the same continuum. Plenty of guys play air guitar in the audience, Lou and J. trade barbs (Lou complaining about Farm heartbreaker/solo-showcase “Said the People” when Mascis starts teasing the opening chords: “Oh, that 9 minute song we don’t know?”), and people cover their ears in sonic terror. The encore is “Tarpit,” the most audible request the audience can manage, and then “Been There All the Time,” the unofficial reunion anthem of a band who can more or less back the boast up. May they continue play it for years to come.