9/25/08 Built To Spill/Dinosaur Jr./The Meat Puppets @ Terminal 5 New York, N.Y.

Photo by Gerald Cruz Fernando

Straight outta the Catskills* – where they performed Perfect From Now On in its entirety on the 19th for All Tomorrow’s Parties first east coast festival at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello…

Photo by Gerald Cruz Fernando
Photo by Gerald Cruz Fernando

Straight outta the Catskills* – where they performed Perfect From Now On in its entirety on the 19th for All Tomorrow’s Parties first east coast festival at Kutshers Country Club in Monticello, NY:  Built To Spill wasted no time setting up, sans road hands or guitar techs, on the broad stage of the voluminous and voluptuous midtown venue Terminal 5 after indie legends Dinosaur Jr. finished their searing set…


Openers, “The Brothers Meat,” as Kurt Cobain called the Kirkwood brothers, when they accompanied Nirvana on three Meat Puppets songs for the Grammy winning MTV Unplugged in New York, played to a gradually swelling crowd, lunging through tracks off of Meat Puppets II, which included the indelible “Plateau”,  “Oh, Me” and  “Lake Of Fire” along with some newer material from 2007’s Rise to Your Knees. The men from Phoenix may have puzzled those unfamiliar with their brand of psyche-billy-punk, but they did not disappoint.


The formerly feuding front men of Dinosaur Jr., J Mascis and Lou Barlow, despite not making eye contact throughout their all too short time on stage, communicated exceptionally well through original drummer Murph and to the audience with a gracious collection of songs spanning the band’s catalog. Standouts were the Mascis penned and sung “Out There” and Barlow’s “Back To Your Heart”. Both songs offered examples of the masterful intricate meshing of aching poignancy and “the rock” a reunited Dinosaur Jr., seemingly effortlessly, can and will pull off.


… This is after all the Perfect From Now On Tour so the set list was well know to the throngs of die hard Built To Spill fans, so no one was shouting out requests for “The Plan” or “Nowhere Nothin’ Fuckup,” but from the start of “Randy Described Eternity” to the end of “Untrustable  Part 2 (About Someone Else),” nearly anywhere one went, from stage front to the second tier, folks were singing along. Despite a string breakage (gasp) on Brett Netson’s guitar after the first number, the performance of BTS’s first album for Warner Brothers was executed damn near perfectly. The addition of John McMahon’s keys and cello playing was essential, especially for those in the crowd noting every measure of every bricolage-like song on the album. Singer/guitarist Doug Martsch often shook as he sang as though he woke up that morning with his mind staying on Jesus, getting it said. This affect unconsciously reinforced the spiritual aspect of the show, if only because most of those present were as familiar with the material as ardent laymen are with liturgy.


To a friend unfamiliar with Perfect From Now On or Built To Spill, for that matter, it was simply a great and enjoyable show, especially the encore closer Halo Benders (a pre-BTS Martsch band) cover “Virginia Reel Around The Fountain”. About ¾’s through the 10 minute plus jammy rendition, a nearly literal Virginia reel of musical chairs occurred onstage, with members of all three bands who performed that night swapping drums, for bass, for guitar, for high hat, for keys and back again, till all agreed to stop the show.


*They did tear through Philly, Richmond, D.C. and Baltimore before coming back to New York.


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