• Dinosaur Jr. – Bug Live At The 9:30 Club In The Hands Of The Fans

    Released by: MVD
    Released on: February 21, 2012.
    Director: Dave Markey
    Cast: J Mascis, Lou Barlow, Murph, Henry Rollins
    Year: 2011
    Purchase From Amazon

    The Movie:

    Full disclosure: I’ve never been much of a Dinosaur Jr. fan. I tried to get into them when I was in highschool as I had some friends who were absolutely rabid for them, but it never clicked for me. Don’t get me wrong, they were never a band I hated or anything, but their music never moved me the way it seemed to move a lot of people I know with tastes in music similar to my own. I even saw them play live when I was a teenager, but nope, it didn’t change my view. I figured when this DVD landed in the R!S!P! HQ mailbox for review coverage this would be a good opportunity to reevaluate them. After all, Bug, the album they perform in its entirety here, is widely considered to be one of their best and, as we all know, tastes can change over time. In this case, however, they haven’t.

    That’s really beside the point, however, as if you appreciate the ‘wall of sound’ that J Mascis and company have been delivering over the years, you’ll probably geek right out over this disc. A bit of background information on the concert itself – in 2011 Dinosaur Jr. played a few shows up and down the east coast, culminating in a gig at Washington D.C.’s legendary 9:30 Club in which six contest winners – Jeriamy Vann, Edwin Samuelson, Strider Jordan, Greg Dalton-Kay, Matt Moffatt and Nate Rhodes – would film the show from various vantage points throughout the venue. This was a cool concept that worked well for the recent Iggy & The Stooges: Raw Power Live In The Hands Of The Fans DVD/Blu-ray release that MVD put out last year, and it works well here too. Some cameras do a better job of capturing things than others and some shots look better than others but you do walk away from watching this with a sense of what the show must have been like.

    Before the concert starts, we get some clips of the fan entries that won these six guys the shot to shoot, and we get some brief sound bites from Keith Morris (whose most recent band, Off!, opened the show) and Mike Watt on their admiration for the band and we get a bit of face time with the project’s director, Dave Markey (probably best known for his documentary The Year Punk Broke). We even get a quick blink-and-you’ll-miss-it visit with Minor Threat/Fugazi frontman and D.C. native Ian MacKaye and Henry Rollins (for more on his involvement here, see the extras).

    From there we launch into the set proper – all eleven tracks from Bug performed in their entirety: Freak Scene, No Bones, They Always Come, Yeah We Know, Let It Ride, Pond Song, Budge, The Post, Don’t, Sludgefest and Raisins. The band sounds about the same here as I remember them sounding when I saw them play almost twenty years ago and the performance style is similar too. Mascis is not the most engaging frontman, he hides behind his long white hair a lot and doesn’t interact with the crowd all that much. The other two members of the band, Lou Barlow and Murph, are a bit more energetic and bring more energy to the stage but things still stay reasonably reserved throughout. The music itself is performed well, their trademark sound still completely intact and those who understandably appreciate Mascis’ guitar sound will no doubt walk away impressed. The crowd, enthusiastic enough judging by their applause, mirrors the bands rather mellow attitude, don’t expect any crazy mosh pits or stage dives here. But yeah, the band sounds good and they do what they do well. If what they do appeals to you, by all means, add this to your collection – you will definitely enjoy it. If you’re not a fan, it’s unlikely this’ll do anything to change your mind.


    The 1.78.1 anamorphic widescreen transfer is erratic but that’s understandable given that this was shot on a few different cameras. For the most part it looks pretty good, with some shots a bit more stable and colorful than others. The disc is well authored in that there aren’t any serious compression issues. If the image gets shaky here and there, that’s not such a problem as it sort of puts you in the moment so to speak.

    The Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound track on the disc is good, spreading things out across the front of the stage effectively and using the rears to fill things in here and there, mostly with crowd noise. An optional 2.0 Dolby Digital Stereo track is also included.

    The first extra is On Stage Interview With Henry Rollins, in which the former Black Flag frontman and talk show host, who is a self proclaimed Dinosaur Jr. super fan, spends twenty minutes on stage at the 9:30 Club with the three members of the band. He quizzes the band about practice sessions, the noise levels of the band, challenges of the rhythm section competing against Mascis’ overwhelming guitar sound, recording different albums, the evolution of the band and more.

    Also included here is an eighteen minute segment in which Dinosaur Jr. is interviewed by ‘the fans’ who won the contest. Topics here include what the fans mean to the band, being music fans themselves, lyrics of the song The Post and how it may or may not relate to some Hank Williams lyrics, tensions that existed between the band members leading up to the recording of Bug, the influence of Ron Asheton from The Stooges and more.

    Rounding out the extras are just under nine minutes of bonus live footage from the show, an eight minute interview with director Dave Markey and J Mascis that discusses the making of The Year Punk Broke and now this new live set, and a three minute segment in which Rollins talks about the history of the 9:30 Club and its importance in the DC punk rock scene.

    Inside the keepcase is a small color insert featuring a few color photos from the show and full credits for the show and the disc.

    The Final Word:

    If you’re a Dinosaur Jr. fan, you already know you need this, and if you’re not, this won’t change your mind. This is simply the band doing their thing, they’re not breaking any new ground here, but the concert is well shot and the extras will certainly be of interest to those who appreciate the band.

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Mark Tolch's Avatar
      Mark Tolch -
      Like you, I don't hate the band, but they sure don't do much for me. I've seen them once (while working a staging gig) and they were alright in that they pissed off 30,000 people who were waiting for Alanis Morisette, but that's about it.