J. Mascis Live at Do Division Fest 6/1/14 - My Review

Empty Lighthouse is a reader-supported site. This article may contain affiliate links to Amazon and other sites. We earn a commission on purchases made through these links.

Sunday night, my buddies and I headed downtown to watch and then celebrate our beloved Blackhawks winning Game 7 against the Los Angeles Kings and making their way to the Stanley Cup Finals.

Once again the game was neck to neck towards the end and we decided to leave the packed bar we were at to check out the outdoor music/food festival Do Division, located on (you guessed it) Division Street.

We made our way to watch San Francisco hip hop group People Under The Stairs. While they had made some noise during the early 2000's independent hip hop boom, I hadn't really heard from them in years. Their set was paint by numbers hip hop, with hum drum audience participation like spelling out the word C-H-I-C-A-G-O and then having the audience repeat.

I wasn't impressed. I was more interested in checking the Blackhawks score on my phone and on the many large LED screens lining the street.

Then, while checking my phone, I decided to browse Twitter and I happened to see that J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr. was playing in town that night. At the same fest. At the same time! For Free! So I told my crew I would be right back and literally started running towards the other stage about a quarter mile down Division.

The loud hip hop beats and Blackhawks cheering slowly subsided as I approached the other stage. There was J. Mascis with only his trusty beaten-up acoustic guitar playing "Thumb," one of his countless classics with alternative rock legends Dinosaur Jr. It sounded like a lovely loneliness presented in front of a hushed audience of hundreds.

As he segued into "Little Fury Things" (from Dinosaur Jr's flawless 1987 "You're Living All Over Me" LP) the acoustic set actually started to rock due to his crunchy distortion pedal. On the next song he employed a "looper" pedal, meaning that he would lay down the chord progression, push the pedal, the pedal would "loop" the chords and repeat as J. would solo furiously over the chords.

While this was only one man on stage, it often sounded like two or three musicians making beautiful music together. No drummer, no bassist, no stage banter, just a man and his music.

After a 45 minute set Mascis let a chord ring out ad infinitum and then laid his acoustic on the stage and said "Goodnight." I checked the Blackhawks score, still tied, in overtime. Then I met back up with my friends we walked to a dive bar and watched the game losing (and season ending) goal with a collective sigh.

But I was still in a great mood due to the set of music I had just witnessed. The power of live music can cover up nearly any other faults you may encounter during your day.

J. Mascis is releasing a brand new solo album Tied To A Star later this summer via Sub Pop.

For more on J. Mascis: http://jmascis.com