Dinosaur Jr. at House of Blues on 11/27

Boston rock veterans Dinosaur Jr. performed at House of Blues on November 27th, alongside an impressive lineup of openers. First in the lineup was Ryley Walker, a Chicago-born fingerstyle guitarist and songwriter who performed a short yet captivating set of soft and elaborate guitar ballads. Next were the Lemonheads, rock perennials who have been around Boston nearly as long as Dinosaur Jr. The group performed an impressive nineteen song set, comprised of their signature punk alternative songs and a whopping four covers. 

After almost two hours of openers, Dinosaur Jr. finally graced the stage, accompanied by a selection of odd-looking monster figurines. The band opened with “Bulbs of Passion,” a track off of their 1985 debut album Dinosaur. Despite the song being over thirty years old, Dinosaur Jr. was still able to generate as much energy—if not more—as they did in their earlier years. The crowd’s excitement was palpable—Dinosaur Jr.’s presence had somehow managed to unify an entirely heterogeneous mix of people. Even though I’d only heard one song at this point, I was sure this concert was going to be phenomenal. Bassist Lou Barlow set aside a special moment during the show to sing happy birthday to his son, Hendrix (obviously named after Jimi Hendrix), who was turning twelve. Barlow joked that he would save his son the embarrassment of bringing him on stage, but I hope Hendrix was able to feel all the love radiating from the crowd. 

Dinosaur Jr. went on to play seventeen more songs, including hits from their older albums, such as “In a Jar,” “The Wagon,” and “Freak Scene.” The band also performed several songs off their 2021 album Sweep It Into Space, including “I Ain’t,” “Garden,” and “I Expect It Always.” Perhaps my favorite track off Dinosaur Jr.’s latest album is “I Met the Stones,” a twangy rock track about meeting your idols, that somehow sounded even better in person than it did on the record. Towards the end of the set was “Feel the Pain,” the band’s most popular song. If there was one song capable of bringing together this ragtag crowd, it was this one. The energy in the audience was palpable, creating a beautiful cross-generational moment of harmony.

The members of Dinosaur Jr. weren’t jumping around on stage, headbanging, or smashing any guitars, but they didn’t necessarily need to. Dinosaur Jr. has enough musical prowess and expertise that just standing on stage and playing their guitars was enough. In all the concerts I’ve been to, I’ve never seen a band work their instruments so skillfully and effortlessly. The band closed out with their popular cover of the Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” reminding the crowd that they really can make any style of music work. Dinosaur Jr.’s homecoming concert in Boston was a truly special experience for fans, once again affirming them as alternative rock powerhouses. 

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