Report: Scratch Acid/Dinosaur Jr Live in Portland


At the Crystal Ballroom in Portland, Ore.,
December 16, a pair of postpunk icons delivers the goods a quarter century
after the fact.

By Tim Hinely


This was the
show of the year a far I was concerned. Also on the bill was Portland legends Pierced Arrows, featuring
Fred and Toody Cole from Dead Moon, but unfortunately I was not able to get
there in time to catch them. Years ago I caught Scratch Acid at a club in
Philly called Revival, on April 29, 1987. On that evening vocalist David Yow
was sick as a dog and asked if anyone in the crowd had any antibiotics (no one
did) and with that launched into an incredible version of “Mary Had a Little
Drug Problem.” Now, on this night, nearly 25 years later, they launched head
first into the same song to open with the set but not without Yow first
addressing the crowd with “This had better be good.” 


And it was. Very, very good. They’re all excellent
player and Yow’s prowess as a vocalist (with both S.A. and later the Jesus Lizard)
doesn’t need to be mentioned here, but when my pal turned to me midset and
said, “Man, (Rey) Washam, and (David Wm.) Sims are the greatest rhythm section
in rock history. And I don’t mean indie rock, I mean rock history,”  he was dead
serious (and just may be right).  Also
torn to bits that night were stellar versions of “Cannibal,” “Owner’s Lament,”
“Crazy Dan,” “Amicus,” “Damned for All Time,” “For Crying Out Loud” and
plenty  more.  For those who missed it, pray they do one
more tour. [Ed. Note: no immediate plans
for that, based on comments from both Yow and Sims in the recent BLURT



Prior to
Dinosaur Jr going on the band was interviewed by Henry Rollins for about 15
minutes. Rollins said it was Dinosaur Jr’s idea to do it and that he jumped at
the chance. He asked some interesting questions about what the transition was
like for the band from their 1st to their 2nd record but
the best part was when he stated that music was the most difficult art form to
which Lou Barlow laughed and said, “”What??!! Oh man…I think it’s the easiest!” 


About 15  minutes later the reformed Dino Jr came back
out and performed their entire 3rd record,  Bug,
from start to finish, after opening up with non-album tracks  “Keep the Glove” and “In  Jar.” I’m still not sure why they didn’t tour
for their amazing You’re Living All Over
, easily their best, but still, Bug is a worthy record to revisit, especially that amazing first half – and yes
“Freak Scene,” “No Bones,” “They Always Come” and “Let It Ride” all sounded awesome.
For the set-ending “Don’t” (the one that Barlow sings, where he screams “Why
don’t you like me?!” over and over again) he asked if anyone from the crowd
wanted to come up and sing…and asked …and kept
asking. He then said it had to be someone who looked like him and finally a
thin, bespectacled kid came up and shredded his vocals for about 15 minutes
which was our cue to head home.


The night was as
a good as advertised though, two bands in their prime 25 years both came back
and showed the kids they can still deliver. And they did. And hopefully will again.



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