'90s indie rock all-stars Dinosaur Jr. and Guided By Voices brought their fabulous hits to Terminal 5 for a night of loud nostalgia and an incredible double bill.
It's a little tough to call Guided By Voices the opener for Saturday night's epic show at Terminal 5. Sure they played first, but with a set list containing 25 tracks, the band proved that while they may have gone on earlier, they're just as worthy a headliner as the power trio that would follow. Robert Pollard's insistent energy was the real star of the show, his amazing ability to power through song after song was truly impressive and it seemed as if he would've kept going for another twenty songs if time had allowed. The band's pure blend of power-pop and jangly indie melodies highlighted their particular brand of bonafide rock that never steers to closely to lo-fi or punk, really keeping things straight down the middle with their stunning riffs and accessible rhythms. Wasting no time, Pollard simply announced the new tracks before the band plowed through them with phenomenal timing; their years of playing together really shining through to highlight their studious showmanship. As the band's sole constant member over the years, Pollard is in full control onstage, but his band hangs right there with him, never missing a beat and accentuating the overall joy and rush with each track. The '90s classics Bee Thousand, Alien Lanes, and Mag Earwhig! all got their due and made the nostalgic aspect really hit its prime making the start of the evening rather triumphant and set the bar high for what would follow.
Setting up in front of their usual massive display of amps, Dinosaur Jr. blasted off with "The Lung" and made sure to sustain their industrial level of sound for the remainder of the night. With J's next-level guitar playing taking center stage, the band dove into their now established set of greatest hits that range the entire span of their brilliant career. Making sure to hit on nearly all their eras including their original run, the hits of basically J's solo run in the group, and their reunion, which stacks up just as high as their first few albums, it was a night for diehards and casual fans alike. The sonic jet engine roar of Mascis' guitar continues to be a mind blowing experience and watching him tear through sky rocketing solos is an act that never gets old. While J's incendiary playing is easily the highlight, perhaps the greatest active rhythm section (Barlow and Murph) is nothing to sneeze at, their locked-in grooves serving as the perfect compliment to the mammoth guitar slaying Mascis unleashes with pure fury. Barlow's swinging bass lines and Murph's phenomenal fills nearly match the intensity of J's screeching guitar giving the band a magnetic charm. The trio is still in tremendous form after all these years and new tunes like "Garden" and "I Met the Stones" match up quite well with their classics like "Little Fury Things." The usual nonchalant attitudes from the band always make for interesting banter on stage, Mascis at time seems unsure if he's accurately called out the next track, but it only adds to the band's carefree persona and lets the music really speak for itself. "Out There" was a raging epic that roared with ear-bleeding power and their cover of The Cure's timeless classic "Just Like Heaven" was an early crowd pleaser that at this point probably feels equally like one of their own as it's become a nearly permanent fixture in their set. "Feel the Pain" and "Start Choppin'" were more blown-out hits full of explosive guitar and for "The Wagon," the band's new strategy has been to recreate the sound they capture for the 7" release on Sub Pop and the additional drummer and electric sitar do more than enhance the song, they take it to interstellar heights. "We have one from Bug for you" J practically mumbled before the band erupted with "Freak Scene," still the pinnacle of their set all these years later and the most extreme contrast to Mascis' uninterested drawl. Watching the crowd turn-up and the pit swell as the band takes off to the stratosphere on the song never ceases to amaze and at this point, for me, it's total comfort food to watch them reach their peak time and time again. Digging back to their debut, "Mountain Man" was an absolutely bruising number and "Forget the Swan" had the band jamming with pure excess, again highlighting their talents beyond punk and hardcore and cementing their status as one of the most prolific American rock trios in history.