Can an old punk-rock band be better than you remembered?
The original brooding trio of Dinosaur Jr didn't survive beyond the '80s, yet still managed to influence much of the coming indie/grunge explosion. Onstage Wednesday at the Avalon, Dinosaur Jr resurrected itself maybe better than ever, igniting spasms of melody and noise that were surprisingly fresh and jarring.
Rocking out is good for them. By the '90s, singer-bassist Lou Barlow had been forced out, and he and singer-guitarist J Mascis drifted into works of understated folk gloom. But Dinosaur Jr's 70-minute set focused entirely on the band's high-decibel '80s work, beginning with Barlow's "Gargoyle," a song from the band's 1985 debut album.
Barlow warned fans that Mascis had a cold from traveling on airplanes over the past two weeks. But it didn't seem to slow Mascis at all, with guitar soloing that was the main attraction and musical exclamation point, an unlikely fusion of Sonic Youth and the Allman Brothers.