Moving past the eclectic mix of fans that occupy the Arts Club tonight, I’m reminded of The Bronze from Buffy The Vampire Slayer. A slow and steady sway of its inhabitants congregate around the bleak yet appealing tones filling the room – sounds that pine for better times. The low murmur of Philadelphia-born ROSALI harps back to the dreary 90s alternative scene, with flashes of heavenly vocals, accompanied by meandering chord progression. Cutting a lonely figure on the stage, Rosali produces a dreamy cover of Karen Dalton’s Something On Your Mind before shortly departing the stage with a quick thank you, leaving everyone with something to contemplate.
“Alright?” is just one of two words J Mascis utters all night as he greets the room of hopeful followers waiting to capture a glimpse of his capabilities. With his Gibson slung low to the hip, he starts with Thumb from Dinosaur Jr’s 1991 album, Green Mind, reminding onlookers of the impressive catalogue he can call upon, both with his band and various solo outings over the years. On Little Fury Things the incredible amount of distortion and volume produced by one man stuns the crowd; the reverb shakes everyone to their core before surfacing back into the calm waters of acoustic delivery. It’s a juxtaposition that Mascis has honed throughout his career; streaming distortion coupled with mumbled sensitivity. It hits hard, no matter the setting. The exclamation of “I know you’re out there” from Out There prompts a wave of psychedelic euphoria as the venue becomes the artist’s spaceship, transporting its passengers with every change in tempo and dictated by the exploration of Mascis on his fretboard.
He starts to layer his sounds, playing one riff on top of the next, giving him the freedom to melt faces with his solo endeavours. Watching him command his instrument, I wonder how he can continue at such a blistering pace, but he does. Unrelenting. It’s like his industrious musical capacity knows no bounds, like he does not observe auditory norms. The more recent hits of Elastic Days and See You At the Movies are met with huge approval from the crowd as Mascis amazes the room again with his ability to gear change into thrashy solo brilliance.
Acknowledging his contemporaries, Mascis then produces his unique homage to The Cure with a redeveloped cover of Just Like Heaven, before ascending to the heights of Fade Into You by Mazzy Star. It leaves the crowd astonished, a momentary wonderment as they arrive at a true contented disposition with the night’s events.
Tonight shows that Mascis’ axe-wielding powers are still significant. The considerable importance he has played in forming the modern landscape of alternative rock should not be forgotten.