The Top Albums of 2013 by the Numbers

Lightning Bolt - PJWelcome to the Northeast Underground’s third annual listing of the top albums of the year. In the past, this blog has organized best-of posts both alphabetically and in more random fashion. But this year for the 2013 edition of the list, the Underground is going strictly by the numbers. Read below to see which great records made the cut.

Pearl Jam – Lightning Bolt

Take one longtime grunge mainstay, multiply its skills throughout a 20+ year career, and what do you get on the band’s 10th studio album – a raucous collection of 12 songs that Rolling Stone Magazine labeled a “brooding, pissed-off set,” and “great news for fans.” Pearl Jam made a welcome return to the charts in 2013 with Lightning Bolt. Featuring the speed-punk charge of “Mind Your Manners” as well as the stately ballad “Sirens,” this latest disc from Eddie Vedder and company shows the joy real rock ‘n’ roll can bring when played by true masters. Though other Seattle contemporaries like Soundgarden and Alice in Chains have reunited in recent years to throw on some flannel and record new music, no one else from the ‘90s alt-rock explosion continues to make music as vital as the boys responsible for such iconic albums as Ten and Vitalogy. This new works fits nicely alongside the classics.

ACLU Benefit – Live with Amanda Palmer

One of this writer’s favorite concerts of 2013 was also one of the most unexpected. When Amanda Palmer visited the Calvin Theatre in April (check out a full review of the show here), she brought along not one but three different friends to share the stage with her. The first to perform was Noah Britton (aka ACLU Benefit), and his set went down so well that the talented singer and songwriter decided to release it as a live album via his bandcamp page. Featuring eight songs and an extra track consisting of a 10+ minute interview Palmer conducted with Britton after his performance, the record manages to reproduce the spontaneous atmosphere of the concert, complete with audience sing-alongs and comedic between-song chatter. You don’t have to close your eyes like Britton requests the crowd to do during “I Love You So Much,” but if you do you just might feel like you were in Northampton that night.

Watch ACLU Benefit and Amanda Palmer perform “I Love You So Much” live in Northampton here:

Yellowbirds – Songs From the Vanished Frontier

Another concert highlight in 2013 was the Paradise City appearance of the band Yellowbirds. Group singer and guitarist Sam Cohen performed a stripped-down set as the opening act for Guster in January, and during his 35+ minute performance the former Apollo Sunshine member previewed several tracks from his band’s yet-to-be-released second album. According to a later Northeast Underground review, heard in their fully-realized and recorded form on Songs From the Vanished Frontier, “the same tracks appear blown wide open into Technicolor daydreams.” Highlights include “Mean Maybe” and “Love Stories,” which are both ‘60s pop coated in a 21st century sheen. But the real strength of this record is its intimate ache. Filmmakers would do well to pillage all nine tunes for future soundtracks.

Daniel hales, and the frost heaves. – Contrariwise: Songs from Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures In Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass

ContrariwiseSure this latest album from Greenfield musician Daniel Hales isn’t due to be officially released until 2014, but since much of the material was first performed during the New Renaissance Players’ production of “Alice in Wonderland” at the Shea Theater in Turners Falls in February, and the album is already available on the band’s bandcamp page, I’m including it in this 2013 list anyway. Featuring 17 tracks inspired by the two classic Lewis Carroll books “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” and “Through the Looking Glass,” Contrariwise is a folk rock narrated trip down the rabbit hole with Hales and bandmates James Lowe, Ivan Ussach and Anna Wetherby leading the way, joined by other various “Looking-Glass Creatures” on such tracks as “Jabberwocky,” “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” and the catchy title cut. It’s a topsy-turvy journey fit for a Cheshire Cat, but the music is never less than engaging, and at times even reaches the stately heights of Carroll’s own words.

Dropkick Murphys – Signed and Sealed in Blood

This eighth studio album from the world’s favorite Boston punks arrived in a pivotal year for the Murphys and their beloved hometown. Though released in January, the record and such anthem-like tracks as “The Boys Are Back” and “My Hero” took on new meaning just three months later when explosions shattered the celebratory feeling near the finish line of the Boston Marathon. As is typically the case with anything Beantown related, the group rose quickly to offer assistance to the city as well as to the hundreds who were injured in the attack. Selling t-shirts through its own charity the Claddagh Fund, the band raised $300,000, which it donated to victims of the bombing. And when Rolling Stone Magazine announced plans to feature a picture of one of the terrorists responsible for the attack on its cover, the Murphys were there again to speak up and allege that the publication should be “ashamed” for making such a choice. Almost lost in all the tumult was the fact that though almost 20 years into their career, the same guys responsible for “Shipping Up to Boston” and “Tessie” remain unwavering in their dedication and urge to fight for what they believe in. “Don’t expect laid back,” says Murphys drummer Matt Kelly. “Expect energy, power, and bring your ear plugs. We don’tmess around man.”

Watch the official video for “The Boys Are Back” by the Dropkick Murphys here:

Stephen Kellogg – Blunderstone Rookery

On his first solo album in 11 years, Northampton singer and songwriter Kellogg shows no dip in confidence, despite the fact that the release comes on the heels of his band Stephen Kellogg and the Sixers announcing its plan to go on an indefinite hiatus. Faced with a crossroads where other musicians may start questioning their artistic direction, Kellogg appears more determined than ever. And nowhere is the former frontman’s display of self-assurance more apparent than in the choice of his record’s first single. Coming in with a running time of 10 minutes, “Thanksgiving” is a slow-building epic that touches on moments of nostalgia, sadness, and overwhelming joy. Of course given its non-standard length, modern radio will probably ignore the track, unless of course it finds a place for the number alongside fellow holiday anthem “Alice’s Restaurant.” Elsewhere, “I Don’t Want To Die On The Road” shows that Kellogg is a working musician with one eye on the future, and on “Good Ol’ Days” the singer augments his traditional country rock sound with horns and backing vocals. Yes, it’s still too soon to start clamoring for a Sixers’ reunion, but if Blunderstone Rookery is a template of what’s to come, then Kellogg will be just fine in the interim.

Lady Lamb the Beekeeper – Ripley Pine

Lady Lamb - Ripley PineOver two years ago, this writer witnessed an impressive appearance by Lady Lamb the Beekeeper (aka Aly Spaltro) at the Iron Horse Music Hall in Northampton. So when news came that the young singer and songwriter was set to release her firstprofessionally recorded” album this year, expectations were high. Amazingly, Spaltro lived up to the hype. In fact, every song and every arrangement heard on this record is the artist’s own creation. Tracks like “Bird Balloons” and “Crane Your Neck,” which were standouts on previous bedroom recordings and demos, are now fully-realized visions, constructed with additional instruments and refinements. Other songs like “The Nothing Part II” and the closer “Taxidermist Taxidermist” merge soulful vocals with artful orchestrations. Still, amidst all the mix of sounds is an intimate quality that brings Spaltro’s words not just into a listener’s ears but also their heart. She’s a tender demon, just as liable to soothe a stranger’s sorrow as she is to send chills up their spine with a scream or leave them cowering after a savage howl. Who could ask for anything more? Listen closely, and you too might fall under the Beekeeper’s spell.

Chelsea Light Moving – Chelsea Light Moving

When alt-rock’s ruling couple Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon announced in 2011 that they were separating after 27 years of marriage, music fans the world over pondered the future of the pair’s shared band Sonic Youth as well as the lives of the artists themselves. While the group quickly announced a hiatus, Moore and Gordon have remained anything but quiet after their split. Teaming with friend Bill Nace, Gordon quickly formed the experimental guitar duo Body/Head. And Moore, after joining forces with Samara Lubelski, John Moloney and Keith Wood, formed the band Chelsea Light Moving, which released its debut album in March. On the record, Moore leaves behind the mellower trappings of his previous solo albums Trees Outside the Academy and Demolished Thoughts for a louder and faster punk-influenced sound. “Lip” is a sub-three minute blast that features Moore screaming “too fucking bad” over stop-start riffing, and the fuzz-infused cover of the Germs’ track “Communist Eyes” is a raucous closer that dissolves with a squeal of feedback. They say breaking up is hard to do, but with music this good underground icon Moore has culled something great from his personal turmoil.

Doug Ratner & the Watchmen – Run With Me

Opening with the riff-filled ode to life on the road “If You Wanna,” the third album from the Western Mass band Doug Ratner & the Watchmen is perhaps the most freewheeling rock record to come out of the Pioneer Valley in years. Filling a listener’s ears with classic-sounding licks and lyrics concerning timeless subjects like relationships, having a good time and man’s best friend, many tracks on the release are perfect for playing at high volume whether at home, at the bar, or while driving down the highway with the top down. One particular highlight, “Dogs,” has even become the anthem for the Washington Humane Society, creating a more upbeat alternative to all those depressing commercials featuring the music of Sarah McLachlan. Still, amidst all the feel good vibes are notes of nostalgia and even moments of naked emotion. As previously noted by former Valley Advocate writer Tom Sturm, “Will There Be a Day” just might be “the first song to address the Newtown/Sandy Hook shootings, and in a way that comes from a place of genuine feeling.” Instead of playing somber acoustic instruments or utilizing string-augmented melodrama, Ratner and company have crafted a song that’s a defiant, electric-charged call for a brighter future. Here’s hoping those betters days are ahead for everyone, and here’s hoping that Ratner is still around in days to come to provide a voice for such worthy causes.

Watch the official video for “Dogs” by Doug Ratner & the Watchmen here:

Purson – The Circle And The Blue Door

Back in the ‘70s, bands like Led Zeppelin and Black Sabbath mixed heavy rock with dark lyrical themes to create music with occasional occult overtones that was often as chilling as it was engaging. In 2013, the psychedelic rockers of Purson are carrying on that songwriting tradition with positive results. On its debut album, the group led by front woman Rosalie Cunningham casts a spell over listeners with tracks like “Spiderwood Farm,” which tells the story of ghosts haunting a house in the country, and “Leaning on a Bear,” which uses a blues-influenced foundation to augment lines about a creepy circus where “children swarm like flies.” According to the branch of theology known as demonology, which focuses on the study of demons and beliefs concerning such creatures, the name Purson refers to the “Great King of Hell,” who is often accompanied by 22 legions of demons. If Purson the band continues to pen songs as entrancing as those on this record, its number of fans could soon grow to the size of legions and beyond. Many listeners may willingly sign up to join the horde.

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Honorable Mentions:

Frightened Rabbit – Pedestrian Verse, Dawn McCarthy & Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy – What the Brothers Sang, Califone – Stitches, Huckleberry Binge – Tornado EP, Kids Choice – Older Babies, (the) Melvins – Everybody Loves Sausages, Quasi – Mole City, Cass McCombs – Big Wheel and Others, Dérive – All My Demons Are Coming Loose, Andy Kaufman – Andy And His Grandmother

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Don’t forget to visit the Northeast Underground again in 2014. And check out the blog on YouTube and Twitter by clicking on the icons below:

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Doctor Westchesterson reps Valley Advocate on new track, Chelsea Light Moving premieres Occupy-themed video

Dr. WestchestersonThe “undisputed ruler” of the 413 is back again, and this time Doctor Westchesterson has even seen fit to name drop the Valley Advocate in one of his rhymes.

On his newest track, “Make You Move,” which he dropped on Thursday, Westchesterson mentions a 2012 Advocate cover he shared with Berkshire County politician Bill Shein.

The good doctor raps:

…and then they interviewed me in the pages of the Valley Advocate magazine, yeah it was a cover story, me and politicians share press, press flesh because I’m bigger than all the rest…

***

And in other Valley music news, Florence resident and former Sonic Youth axe slinger Thurston Moore has premiered the first official video by his new band Chelsea Light Moving.

According to an interview in Rolling Stone Magazine, the video for “Lips” features footage of the band interspersed with clips of “Occupy Wall Street rallies and London riots.”

Watch the official music video for “Lips” by Chelsea Light Moving here:

Moore says, “It was the idea of the director, Eva Prinz. It’s a protest song I wrote for all the Occupy people I know, and she’s very involved with Occupy in a very activist way…Making a video of a song with a chorus of ‘Fuck fuck fuck’ is a little ridiculous. You can’t show the thing. But it was a creative moment.”

For more information on Doctor Westchesterson and Chelsea Light Moving please visit http://www.drwestchesterson.com/ and http://www.chelsealightmoving.com/.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Thurston Moore is ready to feng shui your pad with new band Chelsea Light Moving

Chelsea Light MovingTaking its name from a short-lived moving company operated by composers Philip Glass and Steve Reich, Chelsea Light Moving, the newest project from guitarist and alt-rock icon Thurston Moore, is a group whose full-length debut is ready-made to shift furniture for listeners.

After cranking an unsuspecting stereo’s volume knob up as far as it can go, all one has to do is press play, and by the time the band cracks into the nearly eight-minute fuzz-jam “Alighted,” the sofa will likely get up and walk by itself. No promises on where the couch will ultimately end up though. You see, this is an album where not knowing where you’re headed is half the fun.

Recorded at Sonelab studios in Easthampton, Mass. by engineer Justin Pizzoferrato and featuring fellow group members Keith Wood (Hush Arbors) (guitar), Samara Lubelski (bass) and John Moloney (Sunburned Hand of Man) (drums), Chelsea Light Moving is a return to form for Moore, who’s last two solo releases (2007’s Trees Outside the Academy and 2011’s Demolished Thoughts) appeared to tread in mellower waters.

The focus here is on sounds loud and fast. “Lip” even features the 54-year-old Moore barking out the line “Too fucking bad” over and over again, as if he’d traded places with an erstwhile hardcore fan nearly 40 years his junior. Elsewhere, a cover of the Germs’ “Communist Eyes” continues this trend complete with lo-fi aesthetic. The rage inherent in the song still translates as does the obvious fun Moore seems to be having while cutting loose on a tune originally penned when he was cutting his teeth in the early days of Sonic Youth.

Watch Chelsea Light Moving perform a live version of the song “Lip” here:

Some of the best moments on Chelsea Light Moving are the ones where the entire ensemble is able to lose itself in the music. The earlier mentioned “Alighted” is just one such example of this camaraderie. “Empires of Time” is another. Building slowly at first with repeating guitar lines, the song eventually erupts with Moore shouting “We are the third eye of rock ‘n’ roll” over the din.

Listeners with short attention spans may be put off by many track’s running times, which often balloon to over five minutes in length. And Moore’s more literary influenced numbers “Burroughs” (named after the famous beat writer William Burroughs) and “Mohawk” (which amounts to one, long spoken-word recital) are some of the worst offenders in this area, each tune overstaying its welcome by several minutes.

The same can’t be said of the rest of the record though. In fact, Moore and company’s rave-up stylings should have many clamoring for another spin as soon as the first one is over. This is one moving company fans won’t mind tipping extra.

For more information on Chelsea Light Moving please visit http://chelsealightmoving.blogspot.com/ and http://www.matadorrecords.com/matablog/category/chelsea-light-moving/.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Music news in brief: Sonic Youth split, Stone Roses reunite, and LMFAO get sexy

Sonic Youth 1First off, it’s official. The ‘90s are truly over.

After 27 years of marriage, Northampton residents Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore the first couple of alternative rock icons Sonic Youth have decided to go their separate ways.

According to a report by Rolling Stone magazine, the couple released a statement on October 14 that said in part, “Musicians Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore, married in 1984, are announcing they have separated. Sonic Youth, with both Kim and Thurston involved, will proceed with its South American tour dates in November. Plans beyond that tour are uncertain.”

While the ongoing commitment to already scheduled tour dates is an encouraging sign, many fans can’t help but feel saddened by the potential loss of what has become an underground music institution.

In fact, the band’s most recent studio album The Eternal was released in 2009. And the career-spanning retrospective Hits Are for Squares landed in shops in 2008.

Moore himself even talked about the group possibly writing new material in an interview with the New Musical Express magazine just a few months ago.

That possibility now seems unlikely, but another Moore quote from a recent concert doesn’t eliminate all hope.

He said, “With the power of love, anything is possible.”

For more information on Sonic Youth please visit www.sonicyouth.com.

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Stone Roses (Turns to Stone album cover)Next up, the “Madchester” movement lives again!

Seminal British rockers the Stone Roses announced their unexpected reunion Wednesday almost 15 years after the band’s initial disintegration.

Though few would have ever predicted the split between Moore and Gordon above, even fewer could have predicted perhaps this most unlikely of all rock ‘n’ roll reunions.

Famously having called it quits in 1996 after a series of poor showings at festival dates and the departure of members John Squire and Alan “Reni” Wren, the group frequently popped up in the press over the years to alternately encourage and dismiss all talk about possibly reforming.

However after the New Musical Express reported on the “emotional reunion” between Squire and singer Ian Brown during the funeral for bassist Gary “Mani” Mounfield’s mother in April, some cracks began to show in the band’s stubborn stance against a formal reunion.

A press conference officially announcing the decision was held on October 18. And upon going on sale, all 150 thousand tickets for the list of forthcoming reunion gigs reportedly sold out in just 14 minutes.

According to frontman Brown, “We’ll drive it until the wheels fall off like we did last time. And they did fall off last time!”

For more information on the Stone Roses or to see future tour dates please visit www.thestoneroses.co.uk.

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And finally…oh forget it. This last item is just for fun.

In fact, I dare you to not get this song stuck in your head. Also for that matter, enjoy trying to scrub the video’s unique visuals out of your psyche as well.

Sing it with me now:

“Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle yeah.”

Watch the official music video for LMFAO’s “Sexy and I Know It” here:

For more information on LMFAO or to see future tour dates please visit www.lmfaomusic.com.

Plus, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on YouTube and Twitter:

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Keith Wood and Hush Arbors: a secret it’s hard to keep quiet about

Keith Wood (Andrew Kesin)

Keith Wood (Photo credit: Andrew Kesin)

One of the many highlights of the Whole Children benefit concert held at the Calvin Theatre on June 21 was the appearance of area resident and Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore.

Performing with his band Demolished Thoughts (titled after his recent solo album of the same name), Moore treated those in attendance to a festive set full of psychedelic folk jams, which frequently featured thrilling crescendos and heroic displays of acoustic guitar prowess.

However, perhaps lost in the shuffle of a night that also included appearances by fellow indie stars – Henry Rollins, Lou Barlow, and J Mascis – was the on-stage presence of musician and Demolished Thoughts band member Keith Wood (see photo).

As the primary force behind indie rock act Hush Arbors, Wood is more than just your average sideman. And after witnessing him play live, I was given new reason to revisit his most recent studio album Yankee Reality, which was released by Thurston Moore’s Easthampton-based Ecstatic Peace record label in 2009.

While I admit that I was none too blown away by the record as a whole during my first listening, I still feel now, as I did then, that many of the tracks manage to reside in a realm far above the usual dreck that typically lands on my desk next to my morning coffee (which, by the way, is far from dreck, and absolutely delicious).

For example, the song “Coming Home” ambles along nicely as a country rocker with a slight ‘60s tinge and “For While You Slept” (featuring guitar courtesy of record producer J Mascis) begins briefly with the opening riff from Tom Petty’s “American Girl” before evolving into a strident march.

“Hold out / your lovely hands/ Take this weary man,” Wood sings. And upon hearing the words it’s not difficult to picture a pair of lovers walking arm-in-arm towards the sunset.

Watch the video for Yankee Reality track “Coming Home” here:

Elsewhere, album opener “Day Before” ably sets the stage for what follows. Namely, Wood’s voice remains in the spotlight as acoustic guitars strum around him and cymbal crashes drive the tune home.

Though overall there doesn’t seem to be enough material that truly grabs a listener’s attention, as a testament to the single-minded creativity of an artist who’s not afraid to follow his own course, Yankee Reality is that rare work that manages to create a world all of its own.

Or, according to fellow musician and label mate James Jackson Toth (of Wooden Wand fame):

Yankee Reality is a credit to Keith Wood’s vast talent as a songwriter and performer, but also, stands as a shining example of his breadth of focus and versatility. How many fools out there love Merle Haggard, The Dead and Dinosaur Jr equally? I know one.”

For more information on Hush Arbors or to see future tour dates please visit www.husharbors.co.uk.

And, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground. Plus, check out concert footage featuring artists like Dinosaur Jr., Garland Jeffreys, and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

Some things never change: Dinosaur Jr. and others bring stomp and roar to Whole Children benefit concert

Dinosaur Jr (Brantley Gutierrez)

Dinosaur Jr. (Photo credit: Brantley Gutierrez)

This wasn’t your parents’ charity show.

Eschewing any “We are the world” or Bob Geldof-penned Live Aid platitudes, the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Mass. more closely resembled a gathering of indie all-stars Tuesday night as the lineup for the Whole Children benefit concert took the stage not only to support a worthy cause, but also to play a variety of music guaranteed to keep the gathered crowd rocking late into the night.

Including both national and local favorites like Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and the Warblers, the event was also meant as a special fundraiser for the Whole Children organization in Hadley, which provides recreational, social, and enrichment programs for children and teens with disabilities.

Amherst-based garage rockers the Warblers kicked the event off shortly after 6:30 p.m. with a thundering set full of songs “without shame,” as well as others demanding “Peace Now.” Though varying little in tempo, the band (featuring J Mascis’ brother Migel on guitar) managed to earn repeated rounds of polite applause before concluding with a solo-laden finale that included a surprise appearance from J himself.

Following a quick changing of instruments, coming next to the dais as a nice interlude between two sets of rock was Sonic Youth co-founder Thurston Moore, or as he introduced himself to the crowd, “Hi. I’m Thurston. I live across the street from the Smith College campus.”

Playing with his group entitled Demolished Thoughts (after Moore’s recent solo album of the same name), which includes members from fellow Ecstatic Peace affiliates Hush Arbors and Sunburned Hand of Man, the noise-rock icon turned in a hazy yet engaging show featuring material from his newest release as well as 2007’s Trees Outside the Academy.

thurston moore (ari marcopoulos)

Thurston Moore (Photo credit: Ari Marcopoulos)

“Trippy,” one fellow concert-goer mumbled to me partway through the set. “Not just the music, but the movie too.”

Indeed, Moore came to the Calvin equipped with more than just his guitar in hand. Throughout his performance a black and white film played continually in the background of the stage, featuring numerous women dancing in slow-motion. While providing an interesting counterpoint to the mostly acoustic music being played, the movie unexpectedly stopped during the band’s last song leading to a chorus of laughter at the sight of a giant screen displaying the menu screen to an Epson movie player.

Still, for those awaiting a return to more upbeat entertainment they didn’t have to wait long.

After Moore and company left the stage to appreciative cheers, only a short interval of time passed before former Black Flag singer and compulsive world traveler Henry Rollins made his first appearance of the evening.

Though his nearly hour-long act consisted of the repeating a few of the stories usually told as part of his lengthier spoken-word engagements along with the graphic description of his first (and hopefully last) experience drinking cow urine and eating rats, perhaps Rollins’ biggest service of the night was to thank the crowd for their support of an organization like Whole Children.

Labeling himself as one of those kids who was likely “undiagnosed” in regards to possessing a social disability and who was treated instead with harsh discipline, the iconic hardcore front man preached the value of institutions that are pro-active in dealing with problems that affect children.

He said, “I thought getting a great president would change the world and it hasn’t. Now I’m starting to think changing the world begins with a bunch of mothers creating a place where children can thrive and the rest of us helping out however we can.”

Eventually, in response to repeated crowd requests to bring on the music (including at least one oddly-placed “Fuck You”) Rollins briefly left the stage only to return in minutes with the members of Dinosaur Jr. in tow for a sit-down interview before their performance.

Rollins 3 (Maura Lanahan)

Henry Rollins (Photo credit: Maura Lanahan)

While described as a success when executed for the first-time in front of a crowd the night before, the audience at the Calvin appeared to have little patience for any attempt at a formal question and answer session.

“Concentrate!” shouted one fan as J Mascis prepared to answer the first question asked him by Rollins.

From there many of exchanges between interviewer and interviewees seemed to dissolve into a series of miscommunications or misremembering by fellow band mates. Though at times difficult to hear over the heckling of the audience, the experience did provide a few priceless moments.

For example:

– After neglecting to answer several of the initial questions asked to the group, bassist Lou Barlow finally gave in to crowd prodding and said the reason for his lack of participation was due to the fact that he was more interested, “to hear what J has to say.”

– Discussing the use of vulgarities in perhaps the band’s best-known song from the Bug album “Freak Scene,” J maintained that he actually recorded a radio-friendly version of the track by muting the offensive parts even though Barlow thought he had sung alternate lyrics instead.

– Going into band history, J acknowledged that, “When you play real loud AND have no fans” it’s a recipe for disaster, and may have played a part in getting the group, “banned from every club in Northampton.”

– Reminiscing about their mutual time spent on the SST record label, drummer Murph mentioned first meeting Rollins at a particular party, which Henry claimed to have never even been present for.

– Finally, when asked if Dinosaur Jr. listened to other popular indie acts during their heyday, most responses tended towards the affirmative. However, upon mention of the Butthole Surfers Barlow gave an emphatic, “No” in regards to ever getting into such a band.

Upon finally taking the stage, Dinosaur started by playing a pair of songs (“In a Jar” and “The Wagon”) in order to warm-up before plunging into the 1988 classic Bug in its entirety.

Watch video of Dinosaur Jr. tearing into Bug opening cut “Freak Scene” live here:

Though peppered with guitar heroics and a pummeling rhythmic assault throughout, the band saved its most harrowing performance for the climatic track “Don’t.” Due to his violent singing of the song the night before, Barlow had lost most of voice and was unable to complete the number as intended. So, as a fix two guest vocalists (including one pulled from the crowd) picked up microphones to shred their own vocal chords while belting out the tune’s dark chorus of “Why? / Why don’t you like me?”

The unnamed duo certainly gave the once in a lifetime opportunity a spirited effort, but after 10+ minutes of noisy jamming they each appeared exhausted (and in dire need of throat lozenges) thanks to their time in the spotlight.

Still, the headliners weren’t finished yet. After a scant two minute break, one of the strongest power trios in underground rock history returned for an encore featuring the songs “Feel the Pain” and “Just Like Heaven.”

After a long night of music and fun, the closing numbers were just what the doctor ordered. And as the tired crowd began filing out into the still warm night, this reporter at least couldn’t but smile and think that as long as there are people like Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore, and all the members of the Warblers and Dinosaur Jr. in this world, then institutions like Whole Children have a fighting chance.

Who could ask for anything more?

For more information on Dinosaur Jr. or to see future tour dates please www.dinosaurjr.com. To learn more about Henry Rollins please visit www.henryrollins.com. And for Thurston Moore and the Warblers please visit www.sonicyouth.com and www.thewarblers.com.

Also, don’t forget to follow the Northeast Underground on Twitter @NE_Underground and check out more concert footage featuring artists like Garland Jeffreys, Stephen Kellogg and more on the Underground’s official YouTube page.

“When the Volume Goes Up” Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore and the Warblers play a benefit for Whole Children – June 16, 2011

“When the Volume Goes Up” Dinosaur Jr., Henry Rollins, Thurston Moore and the Warblers play a benefit for Whole Children – June 16, 2011