Sunday, September 28, 2008

Built to Spill/Dinosaur Jr./Meat Puppets @ Orpheum Theatre

I tried to think of a clever title for this post, one that used some hybrid of the names of these three bands, but I couldn't come up with anything good. "Don't Spill the Dinosaur Meat"? "Built Like a Puppet, Junior"? These just don't seem to work. Witty titles are certainly not my forte.

I've previously discussed my fascination with ranking the greatest concert double-bill I've ever seen. Well, last night's show at the Orpheum would have to be a serious candidate for the best triple-bill ever. The only other one that comes to mind that could even compete is this past summer's R.E.M., Modest Mouse and The National concert. That show featured two of 2007's top 5 album of the year honorees, as the opening acts, and a headliner that received some consideration for my Fab 40 list. Last night's show included one Fab 40 artist, one that was a finalist, but just missed the cut, and the cult favorite whose public profile was significantly increased by Kurt Cobain's reverence for them in the early 90s.

The latter band, of course, is the Meat Puppets. I definitely was on the list of people who developed a fascination with them following their guest appearance on Nirvana's Unplugged in New York. Last night, I just hoped to hear "Plateau" and "Lake of Fire", and I got just what I wished for, with "Up on the Sun" thrown in as a bonus. The Kirkwood brothers played a nice set, although the sound left a little to be desired.

Dinosaur Jr.'s set gave me an increased appreciation for Lou Barlow, someone I've never been a big fan of. He definitely embraced the role of band spokesperson, twice yelling into the microphone "We're from Massachusetts!", as if we needed to be told that, and displayed enough on-stage energy to make up for J Mascis' complete lack of it. Not surprisingly, theirs was the loudest set of all, but much more bearable in comparison to a Middle East show I attended in the late-90s. In addition to being the most ear-bleeding set, Dinosaur's was also my favorite of the night, highlighted by fine renditions of "The Wagon" and "Freak Scene".

The theme of Built to Spill's current tour is that they're playing 1997's Perfect from Now On in its entirety. An excellent concept, although my preference would have been for 1999's Keep it Like a Secret. Last night's set certainly started out strong, but as it wore on, it became very clear that I was right. While Perfect is still my second favorite BTS album, it eventually begins to drag a little, which can make for a somewhat boring live show. While I have nothing against the extended jamming that they sometimes have a tendency to get lost in, I would have preferred to hear them wrapped around Secret's more accessible songs. The show closed on a high note, though, with their defining moment, the youthfully philosophical "Car", and after more than 3 1/2 hours of indie bliss, it was time to call it a night.

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