LIVE: J Mascis / Luluc @ The Haunt, Brighton

By Glen Bushell

Dinosaur Jr. have been a staple of the indie, rock, and alternative scenes now since the late eighties, and many of today’s bands will still cite them as an influence. Their often shy and introverted front man J Mascis has been heralded by publications and fans alike as one of the greatest guitarists in the world with his unique and lazy sounding way of playing, so tonight down by the sea in Brighton, this serves as a great chance to see him in a more intimate setting and performing completely alone.

Opening tonight’s show are J’s Sub Pop label mates Luluc, and the Australian duo’s sound is reminiscent of their homeland contemporaries Angus and Julia Stone. Their set is short and sweet, but their hazy indie-folk sound provides a great juxtaposition to the wind and rain currently battering Brighton’s seafront outside.

When J Mascis takes the stage he greets the crowd with a simple “Hello” and kicks the set off with ‘Listen To Me’ from his 2011 solo album ‘Several Shades Of Why’, and then the alternative-country of ‘Me Again’. Anyone expecting to see a fragile set from J Mascis tonight will be disappointed as he blasts through a cacophonic version of ‘Ammaring’ from his post-Dinosaur Jr. outfit J Mascis and the Fog. The guitarist’s use of loop pedals, fuzz, and distortion through his acoustic guitar almost makes you forget that you are just watching one individual on the stage. ‘Every Morning’, the lead single from last years album ‘Tied To A Star’, sounds bigger than does on record, somehow managing to fill the room with the layered guitar work and making everyone in the room fix their gaze on the lightening quick playing of Mascis.

The second half of the set is heavy on Dinosaur Jr. material, which you could think would lose its intensity tonight, but you would be forgiven if you thought a full band were in front of you. Classic tracks such as ‘Out There’, and ‘Not The Same’ sound every bit as infectious as on record, and the near 10-minutes of noise in the form of ‘Alone’ from 1997’s ‘Hand It Over’ make this the loudest acoustic show you could ever bare witness too. J does touch on the serene at times and his cover of Mazzy Star’s ‘Fade Into You’ is almost angelic, before he finishes tonight’s proceedings with an effects laden cover version of The Cure’s ‘Just Like Heaven’, which garners a mass sing-a-long from the whole room.

With a career that has managed to have a long arc across the last 30 years, J Mascis has constantly stayed relevant through whatever project he is working on. It doesn’t matter if it was the violent hardcore of Deep Wound, The slacker rock of Dinosaur Jr. or even his doom band Witch, he is an important figure to not just one scene or style but to the entire music world.