Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Live Shows: J Mascis, Prescott Park Arts Festival, Portsmouth, NH 7/20/19

Photo via Facebook
Two of my obsessions are J Mascis and seeing shows at Prescott Park in Portsmouth, NH. Something about seeing world class musical artists and legends playing in a waterfront park for an $8.00 suggested donation is just perfect for me. It's especially great when Prescott Park breaks from their normal Americana/roots fare for 90's fuzzed out noise.

With temperatures still in the nineties at showtime, it was a very laid back crowd. There were definitely people there who most likely have season passes or just came down since it was a cheap Saturday of entertainment, the amount of Dinosaur Jr shirts in the crowd showed that the park was filled with fans for this night. And J Mascis did not disappoint. Opening with a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Every Mother's Son" (which is a J Mascis staple at this point), he quickly showed that this would not be a typical acoustic singer/songwriter show. Mascis brought the pedals and the distortion, if not the noise. Prescott Park has a very strict decibel limit, making this the rare J Mascis performance that didn't require earplugs.

The only surprising thing of the evening was how few J Mascis solo songs were played and how much the set was filled with Dinosaur Jr songs. Only four songs were from Mascis's solo albums, while nine were from Dinosaur Jr's catalog. Solo songs like "See You At the Movies" and "Elastic Days" fit in quite well with the better known "Repulsion," "Little Fury Things," and "The Wagon." It all flowed together perfectly, with only die hards not knowing the difference. The two song encore of covers featured two well known songs to Mascis fans: The Cure's "Just Like Heaven" (which Dinosaur Jr has previously covered) and Mazzy Star's "Fade Into You," which Mascis has covered quite a bit in the past.

Even something that could be gimmicky worked well for Mascis. He looped his guitar bits multiple times, and would take a drink while it looped and he wasn't playing. At first it seemed like it could be a joke, but he did it enough times that it more seemed like he was just thirsty. And that fits into the awkward charm of a J Mascis performance.

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