I feel as privileged to review this DVD as the six band-selected fans who filmed it. My love for Dinosaur Jr. predates my love for most things, and I never dreamed the opportunity to cover the Alt Rock legends would present itself in the realms of Metal. But by now I’ve learned that when it comes to my luck there’s always a catch. Directed by Dave Markey (The Year Punk Broke), In the Hands of the Fans captures the band performing their third LP, 1988’s Bug, in its entirety at Washington DC’s 9:30 Club last June… Bug being easily my least favorite Dinosaur Jr. album. Don’t get me wrong, opener “Freak Scene” is one of their best songs ever, but the rest of it sort of lacks the instant memorability and heartfelt poignancy that initially hooked me to Dinosaur Jr (and consequently the solo works of God among men J Mascis). I’m more of a Green Mind through Hand It Over guy, although the first two records —and while we’re at it, the most recent two— are about as timeless and essential as records get. Regardless of the fact that Bug never did much for me beyond its first track, this is still must-see TV (especially if you’re an unlucky bastard like me who has never seen them live). The band’s performance is so flawless that I thought they were splicing the live footage to a studio recording! It isn’t until Mascis’ first in-between song banter halfway through the set (which consists of, “Hey thanks”) that I realized it was just that spot-on. In my opinion, J Mascis is the greatest non-Metal guitarist of all time. Getting my first real chance to thoroughly observe him in the live setting, I see that the majority of the magic he creates is with the pick hand and —originally a drummer— his feet. I wouldn’t know what to do with that many pedals, but then again I’m mortal. Still, this is the Bug material and it tends to drag a bit. What I wouldn’t give to see him tear through some Where You Been solos! We do get some extra goodies though. There’s a crowd-selected encore of “Sludgefeast” and “Raisans” (from 1987’s You’re Living All Over Me) and bonus footage of “In a Jar” (also from ‘87) and “The Wagon” (1991’s Green Mind). There’s also two interviews with the band —one on-stage by Henry Rollins, and one backstage by the six fans— which reveal them to be the down-to-earth regular joes I had a feeling they were, a third interview with J and Dave Markey, plus a spot with Rollins on the history of the 9:30 Club(s). We also get glimpses of Mike Watt, Keith Morris, and Ian MacKaye, all in attendance that night. I was unaware Dinosaur Jr. had such a hardcore Hardcore following. Overall, a fantastic package from one of the greatest bands in Rock ‘n’ Roll history, even if Bug isn’t their finest hour.
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