By Jolene Torr
The nostalgia factor of a night spent at the Fillmore, watching Dinosaur Jr. play the entirety of its classic Bug album while the scents of weed and that cloying old familiar CK One (I shit you not) steeped into my clothes, is hard to ignore. Though I was too young to appreciate Bug in 1988, watching the slacker-rock trio indulge in sprawling guitar solos and dense, chugging bass lines undoubtedly evoked a longing for grunge and those impetuous '90s.
Former Black Flag frontman and spoken word artist Henry Rollins couldn’t shake that wistful yearning for another time either as he sat on stage with Dino Jr. last Thursday for a pre-show interview. Invoking the spirits of the Fillmore, Rollins declared, “I always get a bit of déjà vu when I come here. This is where Janis [Joplin] and Grace Slick played!”
Slack-jawed, awed in the venue’s music history, he asked, “So what does it mean to play at the Fillmore?” A big, meaty question like that might normally necessitate an equally sentimental response, but J Mascis, rather than trip down memory lane with the rest of us, championed the venue’s acoustics. “The sound’s really good,” he said. “It’s hard to have a bad night here.”
With his bellicose stare, Rollins probed the band for key insights, opining that the “rip-roaring, pedal-to-the-metal” Bug represented a “sharpening of sound” and with it, a sound that “got more heavy.” There was the promise to be loud, that sound was sacrosanct.
The six stacked amps surrounding the band was the temple. When asked how a venue responds to the volume of the guitars, J Masic said, “Once a sound guy came on and turned down my amp.” He laughed, still bewildered that this had once happened, “That’s like sacrilegious to me.”
After the 30-minute-ish interview, the band launched into Bug, playing to a burly male-centric room, aggressive in their hollers and “owwws” through J’s distortion and Murph’s thunderous drums, lumbering along to Lou Barlow’s bass. They played loud, for sure, extended intros and songs that seemed to play longer than they should that really just seeped into one another, for a night of melodics and heroic guitar anthems in quintessential slacker fashion.
All photos by Chris Stevens.