Monday, June 26th, 2006
So you say you like the music of Broken Social Scene but don’t care for their songs? Or you dig Dinosaur Jr but wish there were twice as many members in the band? Then by gum you should have been at the Mod Club this past Friday night for what was billed as “Broken Mascis Scene”, with J Mascis leading a core lineup of Broken Socialites on a romp through the Dino Jr catalog with undeniably awesome results. The show, scheduled the night before both BSS and J Masics were scheduled to throw down at the annual Olympic Island fete, was a fundraiser for the Amma Foundation – a charity to which Mascis has not only written a song (“Ammaring”) but also recorded an entire CD of devotional songs (J + Friends Sing And Chant For Amma).
While there were surely some in attendance strictly on the basis of the BSS component of the lineup, the night was unmistakably J’s. Call them whatever you want – as far as I’m concerned, that was Dinosaur Jr up there. Kevin Drew often doubled J’s vocals but only occasionally took lead and if he never strapped the guitar on at all, you wouldn’t have noticed. Also onstage were Brendan Canning on bass and Bill Priddle on guitar and two drummers – BSS’s Justin Peroff and Mascis’ Fog bandmate
George Berz Kyle Spence. Rather than take the dueling percussionist route, Peroff and Berz Spence played pretty much the same thing beat for beat – probably unnecessary but they were so tight that it became that much more impactful. And in very un-Broken Social fasion, guests were kept to a minimum. Charles Spearin and Ohad Benchetrit added trumpet and flute to “Thumb” (probably added to the set just to get trumpet and flute in there) and Feist came out for chorus vocals on set-closer “Get Me”.
Unlike the Dinosaur Jr reunion tour last year which stuck to the Barlow-era material, this night’s set list read like a greatest hits package. Every album in the J’s discography was represented save for the bookends – Dinosaur and Free So Free – and were executed with the perfect amount of passion and slop. After all, no one wants precision and tidiness from Dinosaur Jr. But if you asked me even a month ago if I ever expected to hear “Start Choppin'” or “Feel The Pain” live, I’d have said no – how sweet it is to be wrong. Thanks to a curfew the patter was kept to a minimum as the band powered through a setlist on only three days of rehearsals but were compelled to return for an unrehearsed encore of “Alone” off Hand It Over. While not exactly a crowd-favourite, it’s three chords and a crapload of soloing so it wasn’t too hard to get the Scene up to speed.
I didn’t know what to expect from this show – it could well have been a karaoke-like disaster, an unrehearsed mess or just plain uninspiring, but instead it turned out to be one of the best things I’ve seen in a long time. At the very least, as good as the Television show two weeks ago and that’s saying something. I guess it’s been a good month for fans of super-extended guitar solos. Though the star attraction, J positioned himself on far stage left in the shadow of approximately 300W and 18 speakers of Marshall and Fender power, leaving most of the stage to Drew and Broken Social Scene. Somewhat surprisingly, even with all that firepower, he wasn’t nearly as loud as I’d heard the Dino Jr shows were, perhaps having to afford some sonic space to his bandmates necessitated backing down the volume a bit. I thought it sounded great, so I wasn’t complaining.
Tokyo Police Club were added as last-minute openers and I was pleased to see they put on a much better show than the last time I saw them, ironically by not trying to put on a “show” at all. By keeping their ultra-compact (sub-30 minute) set laser tight and focused and antic-free, they finally managed to impress me with their chops and songwriting. While not entirely up my alley, I think I saw what their boosters saw and will throw my support behind them as a band certainly worth watching.
But this show wasn’t about Tokyo Police Club or even Broken Social Scene. It was J Mascis and the works of Dinosaur Jr and it was amazing. I’d want to say a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, but that’s probably overstating it and they did the exact same thing not 24 hours later on Olympic Island. Oh well. Once-in-a-WEEKEND, then. Or twice. Hmm. Anyway, thanks and cheers to everyone who made this happen. Look at the front-row photos and read the Globe & Mail article about how the show came together. Listen to some J below. And read the Chart article where Tokyo Police Club discuss what to expect of their first full-length album.
Jeff Tweedy talks about the Wilco writing process with The Edmonton Sun and Vue Weekly while Nels Cline talks life and death with The Georgia Straight. Their Canadian tour kicks off Wednesday in Calgary and lands in Toronto’s Massey Hall next Friday.
Yesterday was the 26th annual gay Pride Parade here in Toronto, and it’s always a fabulous photo op – I daresay I went to town. I want to draw particular attention to this one, as while it’s not particulary outrageous or gay, it’s quite possibly one of my favourite photos ever. The parade itself was great fun and for want of a better word, made be incredibly proud to live in a city where something like this can happen and on such a scale.
And don’t think I haven’t noticed the pics with boobs in ’em have gotten the most views.
np – Luna / Lunafied