Saw Dinosaur, Jr. on Friday at Irving Plaza.
MikeDot and I had seen them this past July in Central Park and it was an amazing show. Both of us came away from that grinning like fools and overpowered by the majesty of the rock.
Friday was a different vibe. For one thing, it was indoors. For another, I was literally at the foot of the stage, right in front of J. Mascis' stacks of amps. It's now Monday morning and I still can't hear any frequencies above 1.2K. Strangely, all my Husker Du and Sugar records sound great now.
Anyway, I saw two things in Mascis' playing that I thought were interesting. First, he has got so much volume and so much overdrive on his sound that he actually voices chords differently just to scale back the sound. For example, on Sludgefeast, he was basically just playing the root notes in the verse (A - F#), but it sounded like he was playing huge chords. I noticed this again and again during the set. It was very rare for him to play more than two strings when he was in fully-distorted mode.
Second, I was amazed at how relaxed his hands were. He was closer to the relaxed movements of an old jazz player than he was to the vise-like grip I see in so many rock guitarists. He got from place to place on the fretboard with an economy of movement that I rarely see.
I've always thought that the guitar player that Mascis owes the most to is Dickie Betts. He plays the same kind of thick, fluid, melodic solos that Betts usually plays...at least when he is not dive bombing the tremolo with the flanger, the chorus, the delay and the wah going all at once. The solo on "Blue Sky" is the spiritual ancestor of the guitar solo on "The Lung."
I bailed on the Saturday show because, frankly, my old man ears couldn't take it. Still, it's tough to beat the anthemic moments in the best Dinosaur material.