Photo by Wild Don LewisDINOSAUR JR.
at Spaceland, April 16 Hearing that Dinosaur Jr. were burying the hatchet did not shock me the way The Pixies Announcement had, but both produced a similar electric buzz when I envisioned hearing the old songs! (And both are influential bands born near Boston in the mid-’80s.) While the Pixies were allegedly dissolved via a curt fax from singer Black Francis, Dinosaur Jr. in its original form purportedly ended when an increasingly lethargic J Mascis fired an increasingly detached Lou Barlow (who went on to form Sebadoh). It wasn’t quite Coachella ’04, but an adoring welcome greeted Barlow, Mascis and Murph, as Lou and J situated themselves on opposite ends of the stage. “It’s Jerry, man!” sniggered one of the many perspiring devotees packed within, noting Mascis’ mane of now-grayed hair and large square-framed glasses. Barlow looked great, and original drummer Patrick Murphy seemed in post-golf mode — until he peeled off his sweat-drenched button-down shirt and ditched his bald-guy cap. Murph had come to rock (witness his lightning bolt of a fill after the guitar solo on “Kracked”), and the whole band brought the rekindled noise, tearing through a loud, tight set and three encores chock-full o’ favorites from their first three post-hardcore albums (all just conveniently reissued). Those records infused feedback-laden, mucky punk with Mascis’ soaring classic-rock solos and pretty hooks, tempered by his singing voice — a whiny, slacker-deadpan delivery sprinkled with a Neil Young–wannabe falsetto — and Barlow’s demon-be-gone screams. The largest number of fists pumped during “The Lung” and of course “Freak Scene,” Dinosaur Jr.’s revered “perfect” rock song. “Sludgefest,” their ode to Sabbath, got even Mascis headbanging. I was convinced the dramatic arc would naturally lead to “Don’t,” often cited as a metaphor for their breakup — a wall of noise through which Lou howls, “WHYYYY!?! WHY DON’T YOU LIKE ME?” But this night, at the band’s first proper show 15 years after the Great Dino-Schism, the question was neither asked nor answered.
at the Wiltern, April 16 I’ll save you a minute by announcing right now that the Killers’ show gets the big thumbs up — and beforehand I was mainly a fan of their name. The Killers are not doing anything remotely new, and having a (ponytailed!) Jed the Fish introduce the band — as he might have done for the Furs or Gang of Four 20 years ago — only highlighted the show’s throwback factor. But of all the neo-wavers out there, the Killers are the trustworthiest stewards of history: undeniably talented, respectful but not slavish. As Vegas natives, they’re also heavily inspired by Rat Pack style and Elvis absurdity. (“Viva Las Vegas” played over the PA before they took the stage.) Wearing a tux and bow tie, singer-keyboardist Brandon Flowers tossed the mike stand like a proper crooner, flaunting a minutely controlled voice that, remarkably, hits the high notes without ever breaking into falsetto. Guitarist David Keuning nods to the Edge with intuitively simple “solos,” while drummer Ronnie Vannucci proves that it’s possible to mimic a drum machine with real humanity. In fact, through a roughly one-hour set heavy on hits from Hot Fuss, including the triumphant chorus of “All These Things That I’ve Done” — where the entire theater shouted, “I got soul but I’m not a soldier” — the Killers proved that, unlike most of their contemporaries, they grok the emotional vulnerability and youthful confusion that made synth-rock compelling in the first place.
at the Roxy, April 14 It’s been three years since the gold-certified success of Finch’s debut album, What It Is To Burn, announced so-called “emo” music’s arrival in the high street, and two years since the band underlined this with back-to-back sellouts at the Palace. But those are eons in teen time, and already emo — that painfully sincere, twinkly-guitared, busy-beated post-punk love child — has become a curse, whispered only as “the e-word.” So Finch — hailing from unlikely Temecula, in SoCal’s wine country — play it safe, dipping their toes back in at the compact Roxy, testing tracks from their sophomore effort, Say Hello to Sunshine (due in June), and working in new drummer Marc Allen. They’re greeted rapturously rather than hysterically, immediately assaulting the fan-fave genre blueprint “Grey Matter”: contemplative, arpeggiated guitars a launch pad for shambling stop-start riffs, vomity vocals, articulate drums and, of course, an anthemic chorus ringing with optimism. Like all of their ilk, Finch owe oodles to the attention-deficit dynamics of At the Drive-In, but also wallow in moments of Deftones stoner introspection and Glassjaw’s guttural, straitjacket rage. The new songs have wisely maintained Finch’s quiet/loud trademarks, embodying both continuity and progress. Though patchy beards have sprouted, Finch still look like they’re rehearsing after class, stripped-down tonight compared with their grandiose theater shows last time around. Singer Nate Barcalow, slight in his gray Che Guevara T-shirt, loosely ambles about, but otherwise Finch are a static shadow of their guitar-slinging selves, focused on working off the rust — which, with the exception of a couple of sheepish-grin fuck-ups, they do admirably. Juggling mosh-friendly metal maelstrom, Zippos-aloft sentimentalism and even anemic reggae, Finch remain a style-surfing elixir for an easily distracted generation. —Paul Rogers
DEAD MEADOW, JENNIFER GENTLE
at Spaceland, April 15
If you saw Dead Meadow a few years ago (probably opening for the Brian Jonestown Massacre), you’ll recall they were a few hippie-looking dudes from D.C. — at the time, raw and unpolished in appearance and sound, yet intriguing. Now playing before a packed house, with a bit more mileage under their belts, they had their psych-rock swagger in full effect — singer-guitarist Jason Simon accessorizing with shades and the necessary Orange amps. Dead Meadow are accomplished musicians who sell out shows, and they make great quasi-Zep, quasi-My Bloody Valentine-meets-Spiritualized rock. But whatever element might truly set them apart from the pack and eventually give them a place in music history is . . . still waiting to be revealed. By contrast, warm-up act Jennifer Gentle are one of those bands that look like a bunch of nice, normal boys next door — except that most boys next door aren’t Italian, and usually don’t throw down otherworldly psychedelic jams. The band’s humble stage presence, juxtaposed with their spaced-out, pass-the-psychotropics sound, created an unusual but always welcome possibility — that the openers had eclipsed the headliners. —Tatiana Simonian
We Do Love the Nightlife
Just when you thought there were no Eastside dives left for the hipster hordes to invade, the lowbrow-lovin’ visionaries at X-Large clothing co. have claimed one more: Club Los Globos in Silver Lake. The Latino dance club usually attracts the cowboy-hat-struttin’ ranchero set, but last Thursday the big yellow cha-cha house (down the street from the Silverlake Lounge on Sunset) hosted a party for the B-boy boutique, drawing ungroomed gringos including promoters/DJs Stephen Haupther (Radio) and Shakespeare (Chocolate Bar). XL owner Eli Bonerz predicted the space would become “the next ironically uncool hot spot.” From so-uncool-it’s-cool to too-hot-to-be-bothered, we headed to Jenna Jameson’s birthday bash at El Centro, where the porn princess held court in her own VIP corner while salivating cameramen followed her every move. The blond-gone-brown nasty girl plans to star in her own reality show, which surely has Ashlee Simpson shitting a few bricks. On hand to soak in the sexy scene were cast members from MTV’s The Real World, Buckcherry rocker Josh Todd and the club’s co-promoter, Melissa Rivers. One reality TV star we’re actually going to miss is American Idol’s Afro’d fox Nadia Turner, who made a post-booting appearance at the Paper Magazine/Jaguar 2005 Beautiful People Party held at Amanda Scheer Demme’s Tropicana Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel. Among those basking in beautifulness were fellow ’fro bro Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez-Lopez, pop tart Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas, Matthew Perry (looking sober and cute), rock darlings The Adored, and non-rock darling The Game. Also on hand: stealth designer Jeremy Scott, the ever-so-hip Ann Magnuson, Debi Mazar, Jason Schwartzman, Jason London and Tori Spelling . . . not to mention the King and Queen of Paper, David Hershkovits and Kim Hastreiter. Original nightlife scribe Stephen Saban mingled around the Dodd Mitchell re-vamped pool area as DJ Tony Okungbowa (the guy who makes Ellen Degeneres boogie every day on her show) spun the tunes. Not that the self-conscious crowd dared to mess up their designer shoes by getting down on the graveled grounds. For actual dancin’, we dragged it to Makeup’s Dynasty DVD–release soiree at El Rey. The sequins were flying as the city’s sauciest queens crooned ’80s hits for seasoned scenesters including actor/rock dude Coyote Shivers, Warholesque photog Apollo Starr and the enigmatic Danny Shades. After the glitter settled, many headed to the notorious after-hours spot The Basement — an arty, strobe-lit, (literally) underground grotto where sleepless fetishy types converge after 2 a.m. We won’t reveal its WeHo-adjacent location, but suffice it to say the ropes are inside, not outside — and they sure ain’t velvet. —Lina Lecaro and Tatiana Simonian
Photo by Wild Don LewisDINOSAUR JR.