Seeing your old teen rock heroes onstage again after your wonder years have passed can be a bit deflating. Sometimes you walk away from a show going, "Wow, my parents were right—those guys really do have nothing on Neil Diamond!" But with J Mascis, growing old means putting on a better show, one in which you can actually hear his blistering guitar solos over the mountain of distorted, eardrum-bleeding chordage his bands usually churn out—a sonic scream that used to howl like a hurricane for 40 minutes whenever his old band, seminal grunge/slacker-rock icons Dinosaur Jr, played.
Now it's like Mascis has realized that if a certain sector of the population—those who have heard him—is going to keep referring to him in such lofty terms as "guitar god," he might as well do them the favor of living up to the billing live. On the first leg of this tour, which came through LA last November, Mascis and touring bassist/local legend Mike Watt burst no bubbles, reminding their loyal fans why they haven't sold off those old SST seven-inches on eBay just yet. They belted out the insecure rock of Mascis' latest album, More Light, and slew the crowd with palpable, gut-punching presentations of such Dinosaur Jr classics as "The Wagon," "Out There" and "Freak Scene." Watt's quirky punk-funk style melded wonderfully with Mascis' crunchy rhythm guitar, screeching solos and trademarked mopey-crying voice. Indeed, Watt brings a new and lively angle to the music, as he does with everything he touches. Since losing the underrated Lou Barlow in the late '80s, the bass had been sort of an afterthought to all of Mascis' material, but Watt lays it waaay down on all the classic Dinosaur Jr pieces, while adding loads to their overall potency. If you walked away in the past from Dinosaur Jr shows with a bit less of your hearing and a bit more disappointment, here's your chance to see—not to mention hear—how great Mascis can be a good decade on.
J Mascis & the Fog with Mike Watt perform at the House of Blues, 1530 S. Disneyland Dr., Anaheim, (714) 778-2583. Wed., 9 p.m. $12.50. All ages.
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