J Mascis At Amoeba, Sunday July 14th 2013
Skullcandy makes cool headphones, I don’t own any but they look good, and they have recently partnered with Dinosaur Jr. for a limited edition (500) of Dinosaur Jr./Skullcandy headphones. To celebrate the event Amoeba was selling the headphones with special 7″ colored vinyl of unreleased tracks, ‘The Only Other Way’ and ‘The Lung (live)’, and J Mascis played a solo set during Sunday afternoon. An unusual heavy traffic on Sunset boulevard – a tree had fallen down on two cars, unbelievable! – made me arrive just a few minutes before his performance and, of course, the store was packed! I got the chance to see his whole set nevertheless and hung around to see him do some signing.
With his signature long silver hair and a blue cap showing a cartoon eye, J Mascis sat down and played 8 songs off his very large catalog, without saying much, just a few words with this druggy-bear, stoned-monochord voice… he is just a very unordinary guy! I saw Dinosaur Jr. once, and of course, the three of them produced a sound whose volume reached some monster proportion. J Mascis was alone with just an acoustic guitar, he could not be that loud, I thought. And he wasn’t at the beginning, but little by little, he introduced amazing levels of distortion, which blew away the audience. His singing voice, going from morose to falsetto, seemed to be the only thing absorbing everyone’s attention, then he got loud, very loud with his only guitar, then go back to his quiet morose-depressive tone. I am not sure how he was able to get so much noise and distortion, but he is J Mascis! He was quietly sitting down the whole time, and from where I was (quite far) he didn’t seem to pay attention to his surrounding, I mean he must be the most unexpressive guy on the planet, but obviously one of these guitar gods ( I am sure he hate the term) able to get so much fuzz and jazzy solos without moving an eyebrow. May be this is what we call cool. Among the songs he did, I may have correctly identified ‘Listen to Me’, The Wagon’, ‘Ammaring’ , ‘Little furry things’, ‘Flying Cloud’, ‘Get me’ ‘Not you again, ‘Alone’, but as he wasn’t saying much and didn’t have a setlist,… I am not 100% sure!
It may have been before ‘Not You Again’, Mascis became a little more talkative, explaining ‘I met someone with a really good tattoo so I figure out I should sing this’,… okay I don’t have a clue. His nasal vocals could reach some Neil Young falsetto at times (but I know, he is tired of the comparison) and he closed his set with Alone’, and some all psy-fuzz-out-distorted-guitar parts that were reaching new heights of guitar playing. I regret to have passed on the recording of this one.
During the signing, he kept his semi-comatose demeanor, moving slowly and shaking people’s hands while barely smiling. Actually not smiling at all! His lips sketched the idea of a smile twice, when he shook a cute little boy’s hand and paused with two pretty girls. But he didn’t even looked bored or pissed off to be there, he just looked as passive as usual, as J Mascis as usual.