Dinosaur Jr. at the Samueli Theater last night

Andrew Youssef
Dinosaur Jr.
Samueli Theater
December 12, 2011

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Last night's Dinosaur Jr. show at Costa Mesa's Samueli Theatre was a three-part affair, each of which seemed slightly out of place in the upscale-but-welcoming Segerstrom Center for the Arts digs. Opening act Pierced Arrows put on a punk performance more suited for the Prospector, Henry Rollins interviewed Dinosaur Jr. like they were in an MTV2 studio, and then the band ripped through the entirety of its third album Bug to a crowd that only half filled the acoustically sound room.

But while the venue may have been an unlikely choice to host the opening night of Dinosaur Jr.'s nine-day West Coast mini-tour, locals lucky enough to attend another installment of the SCFTA's Indie Band Series received an intimate evening with one of indie rock's most influential outfits and the album that once signaled for it the departure of a founding member.

Andrew Youssef
After a solid Pierced Arrows set -- featuring the latest in fast, heavy rock 'n' roll from Fred and Toody Cole of Portland's Dead Moon -- Rollins and the three Dinosaur Jr. members took the stage for the interview.

Though the 2005 return of bassist Lou Barlow and drummer "Murph" brought back together the classic threesome that recorded Bug in 1988, the album remains frontman J. Mascis' least favorite, mostly because of the bad memories associated with its recording. During the interview, however, Rollins either ignored or was oblivious to this fact and asked the band a series of Bug-related questions that were met with awkward silence and, when lucky, uncomfortable answers.

"Our relationship as a band had really deteriorated by that time," Barlow says of recording the album. "We weren't speaking much."

Twenty-three years must have buried the hatchet, because the band's ensuing performance of Bug in its entirety was nothing short of blazing, with Barlow and Murph coalescing as a blistering rhythm section and Mascis nonchalantly presiding over the complementary intricate riffage.

Self-proclaimed "triple-XL fan" Rollins had earlier referenced Dino's huge influence on the '90s rock scene, and it was easy to hear melodic glimpses of future bands like Pavement and Mudhoney in Bug's opening numbers. After the first few songs, however, it became hard to hear at all as Mascis and Co. further secured their reputation for being one of the loudest bands around.

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