(writing for Misunderrated.com)
27 years after their first album Dinosaur was released, the legendary alternative veterans and godfather of grunge Dinosaur Jr. had their first gig at KITEC Hong Kong on Halloween night with their original line-up. Before the show, Dinosaur Jr. and the indie organizer, Songs For Children, asked fans to come in Halloween outfits on their Facebook and Twitter pages. As expected, you could see many people wearing funny-scary make-ups, but not so many of them actually dressed in full costumes, except for a press “dinosaur”.
Although the show was said to start at 8pm, most people were still chilling out outside the venue with beers and cigarettes then. An hour later the local opening act Papancha finally came up onto stage and warmed up the crowd with a set of fast emo songs, including their underground hit “The Sun Is Shining”. The vocalist did remind me of Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday with his long black fringe over his eyes, red-and-black stripe long sleeves tee, and the signature emo-ish stage movement. Overall they had a pretty good reception for their performance. Local bands who open for foreign acts tend to get shouted “get off” or other rude language, but I did not hear much negative comments about Papancha.
Another hour passed by for the opening and sound-checking. At last, the long-awaited Dinosaur Jr. stepped onto the stage and started playing right away, no waving hello or welcoming speech, just rocking. The set began with “Thumb” (Green Mind, 1991), followed by “The Lung” off from their massive iconic album You’re Living All Over Me (1987) and “Rude” from new album I Bet On Sky (2012). Throughout the performance, J Mascis was v very silent and just con- centrated on his singing, and, of course, his mind-blowingly complex guitar riffs.
Murph did not move away from his drum set for a moment, leaving Lou Barlow to do all the interaction with the crowd. Unfortunately the stereo was extremely bad. The instrumental sound completely covered J Mascis’ famous Neil Young-like vocal. Having said that, it was still a pleasure to see their performance because the spotlight of Dinosaur Jr.’s gig is always on J’s signature pure rock guitar sound. The audience was generally quiet except for a few moments when the hits from Dino’s glorious late 80′s/early 90′s hits were played. There were occasionally some mild mosh pit but that was it. Nothing crazy happened, which surprised me.
There was an unforeseen interlude, though, when Lou Barlow’s bass stripe broke during “Almost Fare”. But he calmly leaned his bass onto the stage and kept playing until the song was done. Murph tried to prolong the drum transition between the next song so the roadie would have enough time to fix it with duct tape. Just a minor incidence but it showed how experienced musicians handled accidents on stage.
Dinosaur Jr. played 14 songs for the main set plus two for encore. The set was a mix of hit songs from their earlier albums—including Dinosaur (1985), You’re Living All Over Me (1987), Bug (1988), Green Mind (1991), Where You Been (1993) and Without A Sound (1994)—and a few songs off from their latest album I Bet On Sky (2012) and “Training Ground” from J Mascis and Lou Barlow’s first band Deep Wound. The overall tempo flowed from the pure rock sound and then switched between modern rock and their well-known grungy sound, and then ended with the folk-rock influenced “Forget the Swan” off their critcally-acclaimed first album Dinosaur (1985).
The gig was awesomely done by a great band and a responsible organizer. The venue was filled fully with around 500 people and was nicely arranged with a small merchandise counter and mini bar near the entrance. On the side was huge graphic written “DINOSAUR JR” on the wall. It was a shame that the mix was very bad which made the show a little away from being perfect.
Don’t Pretend You Don’t Know
Watch The Corners
Feel The Pain
Forget the Swan
Encore: Out There Get Me