by kevin diamond (photos by vin diamo)

Thursday Night’s triple threat of classic indie bands seemed too good to be true. It wasn’t. Let’s be frank, shall we. Meat Puppets, the godfathers of Grunge. Dinosaur Jr, arguably the best band to come out of the indie underground in the 80s. Built to Spill playing their 90′s staple Perfect From Now On. 35 bucks would be a reasonable price to pay to say any one of these bands alone. Together, it was too much to believe.


The funny thing about this show: Built to Spill, the headliners, are 10 years the other two bands minor, and the audience was split among generational lines. There were the old fogeys who had seen Meat Puppets and Dinosaur Jr. in their prime. Old, Grey Haired, probably worrying about the current financial crisis, but taking a night to relive their glory days. Then there were the young and awkward, the kids who’d been teenagers when Perfect From Now On came out, and it changed their lives, and some kids, with X’s on their hands, that seemed to have been turned on to BTS via recent release You In Reverse. But, perhaps as a testament to the viability all these bands still maintain, when the music started those generational differences melted; the audience gave itself over to whichever band was peddling their distinct taste of alternative rock. Every song ended with thunderous applause and numerous cheers.

Meat Puppets are a band that you know even if you think you don’t. Take a listen to “Plateau” below. Yeah, you’ve heard it. Only it was Nirvana’s Unplugged cover that you recall. The original is better. Meat Puppets tore a hole in my head I didn’t know I was missing. Their bombastic jet-propelled set was a sonic wall of distortion and drudge. Occasional moments of soft contemplation were allowed, but the mood for the evening had been set. This was a rock show. Marshall Stacks and Heavy Riffs would abound. The Meat Puppets looked the part: Long hair, check. Flannel pants, check. Stubble on faces, Check. It would have been a parody of itself if the band wasn’t so on point. Their conviction and energy was incredibly admirable, and they go the audience into a frenzy.


The threesome handed the stage over to follow three piece, newly re-formed Dinosaur Jr. Seeing Mascis and Barlow on stage together was amazing. What a difference between the two. Mascis was all Rip Van Winkle hair and emotionless expression. He looked old, especially compared to the youthfull Barlow. His long, grey locks fell like curtains around his face, enforcing his introvert image that so famously fed into the break up of the band in the first place. In contrast, Barlow couldn’t have looked happier. Aside from breaking a string early on, he tore through the set with non-stop ferocity and vigor that rivaled anyone else the entire evening. Between them, the balding, bespeckled Murph sat like a judge, pounding his gavel on the drums before him. Their set visited old and new, playing some favorites from the recently released Beyond, as well as classics from You’re Living All Over Me and Bug. The set ended, and the audience called for an encore, but the house music started, the roadies broke down the stage, and the audience prepared for Built To Spill.


I must say, I’m a Keep It Like A Secret man myself. Nothing against Perfect From Now On, but I always thought it paled in comparison. Regardless, it’s always nice to see Built to Spill play if for no other reason than the refreshment of seeing a band who sets up their own gear.

Perfect From Now On is an opus, a thesis statement, and a remarkable achievement. It was the band’s first album for major-label Warner, and their refusal to allow the label to mold them is evident on every song. It’s longer compositions align it more with 2006′s You in Reverse than with their poppier works Keep It Like A Secret and There’s Nothing Wrong With Love. I had one small gripe: At the beginning, the time between songs seemed to stretch on an on. Partly it wasn’t their fault; the string-breaking fairy had been let loose, and, as bearded leader Doug Martsch let us know, “We don’t have guitar techs.” So they had to pause and restring their guitars themselves. once this problem got solved, the plowed through the rest of the album and pleased everyone with their spot-on reproduction of a great album.


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