Following the abrupt and unfortunate cancellation of Mastodon's fall tour (and their show at the Agora), Dinosaur Jr., slated as the opener, announced the following day that they would be presenting "some special intimate performances" in mid-September. For Cleveland heads, that meant a surprise booking at the Grog Shop. It was immediately noted among the local connoisseurs of ear-bleeding country as a show not to be missed
And, indeed, if you know, you were there.
This was a sold-out affair, and the atmosphere in the crowd was just terrific. Most people made the right call in bringing six-packs of industrial-grade ear plugs. Dinosaur Jr. is just an unbelievably loud band; it's their calling card, and this fact begs the question of what is meant by the word "intimate." Relative to what, exactly?
With a fine one-two punch to open in "The Lung" and "Goin Down" — old- and new-school Dino onstage, in an emotional rush — the band settled into its natural path. J Mascis, surrounded by Marshall cabs and relaxing into the groove, visually balanced the frenzy of Lou Barlow's head-bobbing bass chords and excellent mop of curls. In between the poles, Murph pounded away at the drums and carried the band's heart and soul into the band's best showing in Northeast Ohio in the past few years.
"Watch the Corners" into "Feel the Pain" was a highlight, although it's hard to even pinpoint certain peaks in last night's show. The songs bled into one another sweetly and madly; there were no true segues, but the guys crafted a tight setlist that worked wonderfully. Sound swirled as a monolith; it was almost too obvious to think of a hurricane, battering the corner of Euclid Heights and Coventry.
After drawing from their expansive catalog, the band pulled out some serious insanity for the encore. John Brannon from opener Easy Action returned to the stage to scream his way through The Stooges' "TV Eye." The pit up front, which had been gathering steam and intensity all night, burst into a rousing frenzy to close the evening's awesome show.