» Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]


 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]


 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum

July 25, 2007
Rating: 8

By now the unthinkable has already taken place. A good number of LAS readers are well familiar with the untimely demise in the late 80s of the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup, and Lou Barlow's very public beef with J. Mascis that squashed any hope of reconciliation through the 90s. And then, a decade and a half later in the winter of 2005, all three original members of the band somehow made nice and reformed for a few shows, a development that some would consider proof positive that there exists a guiding force in the universe. Hell had, after all, frozen over.

The end of the estrangement between Murph, Mascis, and Barlow is, as evidenced by Dinosaur Jr.: Live in the Middle East, an event which transpired not a moment too soon. Composed of interview and concert footage from the tour mini-tour surrounding their set at New York's legendary Irving Plaza, the film was compiled by the German filmmaker (and Mascis' brother in-law) Phillip Virus and shows a band that left a lot of loose ends dangling when Barlow was kicked out of the band in the neon haze of 1989. Reformed and reinvigorated, the original trio pounce in the film, declaring loudly that this Dinosaur is, dare I say it, far from extinct. In fact, it is still very, very much alive.

What is perhaps most striking about the performances documented in Live in the Middle East is how genuinely excited to be playing again the band looks as they run through a lenghty set of songs, all but one of them coming from the first three albums in which all members were involved. To put it simply, the mood is ebbulent; save for the members' outward apperances - the balder/hairier Murph and the wider/grayer Mascis - the shows look and sound like one of those folds in the space/time continuum that Doc Brown mentions in Back to the Future. Mascis pulls out all the chops, living up to his indie guitar God status, and most of the songs are broken down with extended solo sections that allow him to really flaunt his fretwork. Check out the version of "Raisans" where the band steps back and locks into one of its trademark grooves as Mascis channels his best indie/garage Hendrix impression.

Contains nearly an hour and a half of songs, the concert footage at the core of Live in the Middle East is plentiful; quite a testament to the band, it is almost too much to digest in one sitting. Dinosaur Jr. has a notorious reputation for being one of the loudest bands around, and although not anywhere near the experience of standing before them in the flesh, the film translates the band's power well. Throughout all the sets the rocking is relentless and the solos are unforgiving, and anyone considering Dinosaur Jr. to be a band of a one-dimensional sound will be prompted for re-evaluation after swallowing the ear-bleeding vets on Live in the Middle East. To see the barrage of sound generated from only three middle-aged men is nothing short of eye-opening.

Along with the live footage, Live in the Middle East also includes testaments to the band's greatness from some of its oldest friends, providing a list of stellar cameos: Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, Kevin Shields and Steve Albini. Oh yeah, and Matt Dillon. Most of the anecdotal interviews arise from firsthand experiences with the band, but they're more chummy recolections than revolutionary insights. Viewers won't find out the key to Dinosaur Jr.'s ferocity or how their feelings have changed since 1989, but they will hear some of the band's contemporaries spout off in admiration of one of the last great early indie rock bands.

Live in the Middle East is a refreshing reminder for old fans to the immensity that is Dinosaur Jr., but it also is a worthy introduction for anyone unfamiliar with the band that came to influence so many others. The mane perched atop Mascis' head may be old and gray, but the life running through this band remains strong.

SEE ALSO: www.dinosaurjr.com
SEE ALSO: www.image-entertainment.com

Kelly Johnson
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