Concert Reviews

Last Night: Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. at the Granada Theater

Built to Spill, Dinosaur Jr., Lou Barlow & The Missing Men, Disco Doom
Granada Theater
October 22, 2009

Better Than: a Thursday evening at home in your rocking chair.

At his Good Records performance held earlier last night, Lou Barlow expressed his love for playing in the endangered venue of the record store.

"I love playing record stores," he said. "It's like playing in a church--it's one of the only places where no one talks through the set."

Well, Lou can add the Granada Theater to the list of those places: The capacity crowd was thoroughly mesmerized not only for his performance with indie rock mavens Dinosaur Jr. but also for an incredible set from Built to Spill.

The Granada was about as packed as you'll ever see it last night, with the house already almost full by the time that Disco Doom took the stage around 8 o'clock. That set was followed by a set from Dinosaur Jr.'s bassist, Barlow, who was backed by Mike Watts' The Missing Men.

While both opening performances were ample appetizers, though, it was the main course that changed the mood of the room drastically.

Given the admittedly sparse stage presence of Dinosaur Jr.--the band moved little and talked less--J Mascis and company had full control of the audience. Hardly a word was uttered to the crowd aside from a couple obligatory "Thank you" here and there that seemed more to bide the time in the lull between songs than anything else. But the crowd didn't mind--even the trickles of music that escaped the band members' instruments as they tuned before the set was in full swing evoked intense responses from the crowd.

Surrounded by three massive Marshall stacks, Mascis and the glorious virtuosity of his flawless guitar ramblings were dominant to the vocals and the drums but, judging by the air guitar convention that was going on during Dinosaur Jr.'s set, it didn't seem to damper many people's enjoyment of the evening.

Given the high skill (and volume) that Mascis' magic fingers leveled the audience with throughout the performance, it's hard to point out focal points of a set that seemed to be a steady stream of highlights. But the 1994 classic "Feel the Pain" and a near eight-minute gallivant through "Said the People" "I Don't Wanna Go There" from this year's Farm release that left the most lasting impression. Keeping with the band's seemingly "less talk, more rock" motto of the evening, Dinosaur Jr. finished the final song of its 98-minute set and then promptly left the stage without so much as a good-bye.

Despite murmuring in the audience that it was difficult to discern the vocals of the first three performances, Doug Martsch's airy voice gloriously floated over the Granada as Built to Spill launched into its set with "Nowhere Nothin' Fuckup" and all was right with the world. The band sounded, quite simply, incredible.

Inspiring scores of sing-along glee with such hits as "Liar" and "Distopian Dream Girl," Built's set created an exceptionally communal environment, with many in attendance seeming to disbelieve what exactly was going on before them. Many even opted to "sing" along to the guitar parts of the band's final song before the encore "Carry the Zero."

For an hour, we were all family.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
It seemed as if every quiet interval between Built to Spill songs produced wild calls from the audience for their favorite tracks. The closer we got to the end, the more it became evident that Built's catalog will never be properly addressed in this setting. I mean, I think the band must have at least 30 to 40 classics that would be worthy crowd-pleasers.

Random note: The epic nature of the event was evident by the huge number of super expensive cameras being used.

By the Way: While the audience was predictably an older crowd, a few under-aged fans were scattered throughout. And of this younger set, it seemed that all of them spent the night belting out the lyrics like anthems of their still ongoing youth. Just maybe the indie rock gods in Built to Spill and Dinosaur Jr. have entered the realm of timeless music that will serve generations to come...