Written by Samuel Barker
Jun 17, 2007 at 08:00 PM
ImageFor the alternative rock fan, this was the best Father’s Day in Houston in quiet a while, possibly ever. With the reformed Dinosaur Jr. making their first stop in Houston since the release of their new album, Beyond, last month, anticipation was high. Oddly, the guys were opening up for the Black Keys on this date.

Regardless, the audience packed into the main room of Warehouse Live to see the band play it’s 9-song, 45-minute set. With tickets only $15 for the show, people we much more willing to ante up the cash to see the opening band blow the house away.

When Dinosaur took the stage, the audience erupted and a sign popped up out of the front row. After picking up his guitar, guitarist/vocalist J Mascis, without his glasses, made his best attempt to make out the fan’s request for a pick. After a slight chuckle and a reply of “Sure.” Mascis grabbed a pick and got it to the fan.

Then, after a glance over a drummer Murph, the band kicked into Almost Ready, the opening song from Beyond. Then about 8 notes into the opening lead, the guitar dropped out and only the sight of Mascis’ fingers moving around the fretboard could be seen. After a few seconds, Mascis tried to get his signal back and failed. Bassist/vocalist Lou Barlow and Murph kept the rhythm going while he tried to get it all in order, but eventually they stopped…which saw the audience erupt in loud applause to let the band know it was okay and would welcome the next start.

After giggling a few wires the band went back into Almost Ready and never looked back. Barlow performed his contribution to Beyond, Back To Your Heart. The song was awesome live and carried the same edge the band has shown with other songs.

The set was also peppered with classics from the years Barlow wasn’t in the band, like Out There, which was breathtaking live, and Feel The Pain. After seeing the band play material from their first 3 albums on the last tour, it was nice to see Barlow and Mascis cranking out the later favorites together and material from the new album. Of course, Small Fury Things found it’s way into the set, along with Freak Scene, which closed the set, so the initial recordings were represented.

While a longer set would have been more than welcomed, people were appreciative of the abbreviated set. Though, many people questioned why a legendary band like Dinosaur Jr was opening for The Black Keys.

Akron, Ohio’s very own The Black Keys closed the show and started off with some slight guitar issues as well, but quickly got everything back in working order.

I hadn’t seen the Black Keys since back in 2002 or so when they were being promoted by Epitaph. The band has gotten a lot tighter and picked up a solid catalog of songs, but didn’t really blow me away the way Dinosaur Jr did. Many people went into the lounge or bailed out before the end of the Black Keys’ set. Of course, a lot of that may have had to do with the 45 minutes between set times that felt like an eternity.

The band is a good mix of blues and rock but since they burst on the scene from the same region as the White Stripes, I just can’t get over the similarities in sound, name and the fact they’re a duo band. But that’s mostly just those idiotic thoughts we try to suppress for the most part, but sometimes can’t.

In the end though, this band has serious rock n’ roll chops and the sound is solid. If you cannot really have a solid complaint on this band if you’re a fan of rock n’ roll.
These guys are the real deal, but if this was a fight, they’d have gotten whooped by the opener. I’d have much rather seen equal amounts of both, because the duo dynamic got old well before the set concluded.