Dinosaur Jr. shuffled onto the Electric Factory stage Wednesday night to a recording of the gospel-blues classic "Ain’t No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down," an apt reference to the resurrection of the Amherst, Mass., band’s original lineup.
In the mid-’80s, guitarist J (Joseph) Mascis, bassist Lou Barlow and drummer Murph (Patrick Murphy) blended punk rock’s volume and noise with heavy metal’s thick chords and speedy virtuosity. Dinosaur Jr. melded Black Flag with Black Sabbath, and Mascis brought guitar solos to the punk crowd.
The trio lasted through three albums in three years before Barlow left in acrimony: At the end, he and Mascis weren’t talking and had even come to blows on stage.
They weren’t talking at the Electric Factory, either. While the bald, stocky Murph thrashed in the back, Barlow kept to his side of the stage, grinning bemusedly, thrumming bass chords, and occasionally eyeing Mascis, who barely acknowledged his partners while playing the role of the laconic, slacker guitar hero.
Mascis moved from the wah-wah pedal fuzztones to squealing feedback to string-bending dissonance during "Kracked." On "Sludgefeast," which linked ’70s metal and ’90s grunge, he struck archetypal metal guitar god poses, hunched over his guitar, legs wide, rocking back and forth and swinging his long gray hair. "Little Fury Things" and others ended with pealing, noodling guitar solos. Mascis’ solos were loud – very loud – and dense and visceral. And often formless, although encores of the catchy "Freak Scene" and a wry cover of the Cure’s "Just Like Heaven" kept him focused.
In contrast to his individual guitar heroics, openers Broken Social Scene presented a mass of individuals creating a din of textures. With up to nine instrument-trading people on stage – sometimes with five guitars, sometimes three horns – the Canadian collective emphasized melody and form in a captivating 45-minute set.
As they left, they chatted with one another and with the audience; after their 90-minute set, Mascis, Murph and Barlow parted silently and separately. It was the difference between a vibrant band with a future and a venerable band with a past.