I walked up to the will call window to pick up my photo pass and when I read it, “Celebrating 30 Years” I smiled. I smiled because I realized “shit man, YOU are old!” but more so because the image of Lou Barlow’s super cute, less than 1 year old daughter popped into my head and made me feel less old. It’s pretty rare that an indie rock band can and will stay relevant for over 3 decades. When you start to do the mental math you come up with bands like Guided By Voices, Pixies, Yo La Tengo, mind you all of whom have toured within the last year! If you stop and think about it there really aren’t that many who have weathered the road less travelled for that length of time. Sure there’s the Rolling Stones and U2 and even Rush up until their final tour last year but they don’t count. Why? Because they didn’t spend the first 15-20 years of their career playing dingy clubs in second rate cities for a fraction of the pay while cramming into Econoline vans and sleeping in motels or on the couches of rabid fans willing to have them stay the night. No they had their jets and their entourages and their fancy riders to keep them going, and if you’ve ever been on tour you’d know that clean socks, a decent meal, and a quiet night’s sleep is priceless. In a way that’s what made the boys from Cleveland, Cloud Nothings, a perfect fit as openers on this tour. While we won’t know until 2040 if they have achieved what very few have, it’s a reminder of how long and how hard Amherst’s finest have worked to get to where they are now.
Cloud Nothings took the stage and launched into “Now Hear In” from 2014’s Here and Nowhere Else, after which frontman Dylan Baldi acknowledged their good fortune to have been “in Cleveland this morning…and now opening for Dinosaur Jr.”. He then strummed the opening riffs to “Stay Useless” from their breakthrough 2012 album Attack On Memory. In fact, with the exception of what was likely a new song the band didn’t stray from these two albums, and to few complaints from the crowed who became increasingly more engaged as the set went on. Things reached a fever pitch when they broke into cult classic epic “No Future/No Past”. The crowd seemed to instantaneously fill in and begin to swell with each declaration by Baldi “No future! No past! No future! No past!” Drummer Jayson Gerycz moved around his translucent kit with the precision, skill, and speed that made me think I had somehow recorded video on my phone in 1.5x speed (I’m not kidding). The Nothings finished their set with a rousing rendition of “Wasted Days” that won over any wavering uninitiated future fans. The raspy vocals of Baldi along with heavy hits from Gerycz and bassist TJ Duke drove home the message that the Cloud Nothings were indeed the Cloud Everythings. I had a chance to chat with Duke over a flexidisc that I was instructed to “play until it turns to dust”, a Marissa Paternoster design T-Shirt, and my alma mater Oberlin College that now sports his “favorite record store” and he could not have been a nicer fellow. Remember to support the opening act!
AARP qualifying Dinosaur Jr. was next and they took to the stage like the teens from Amherst past immediately ripping into “Bulbs of Passion” from their 1985 debut Dinosaur. Older, greyer, and balder, the Massachusetts trio played with the energy and enthusiasm of their younger selves following up their opener with “The Lung” from 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me, my favorite Dinosaur Jr. album. While I lamented not hearing more from their excellent 2016 release on the Jagjaguwar label they continued with “Going Down” and eventually played a fantastic version of my favorite track “I Walk for Miles” along with “Tiny” from this release. While “Feel the Pain” and “Start Choppin’” were clear fan favorites I reveled in their amazing renditions of “Gargoyle” and their final second and final encore of “Sludgefest”. If this is what 50+ looks like for Dinosaur Jr. then I can only aspire to grow and mature in my live reviews and photography as they have in their music. A night of amazing music and youthful exuberance is sure to be had should you catch them in your town.