Jay Mascis plays the most satisfyingly whiny, teen-angst-filled laments on his guitar. The sound — like a weary, taut wail — perfectly matches his sorrowful, oddly atonal voice.
His once-black hair is still long and still hangs in his face. Only now it’s gray: a harbinger of what lies ahead for the band’s core group of thirty- and fortysomething hardcore fans (if it hasn't arrived already), for whom skating suburban pools and skipping school has given way to office cubicles.
Early on Saturday evening at Coachella, Mascis seemed more present as a performer than ever before. The transformation must’ve come with age. Seeing Dinosaur Jr. once at Lollapalooza in the early ‘90s, Mascis barely moved onstage and certainly never swept that signature mop of hair out of his eyes to look at his audience.
Twenty years later, seeing Mascis against a backdrop of blue California skies, with palm tufts waving serenely in the background, it was hard not to marvel at how we had grown up with him.
“Hello, sunshine,” Mascis said at one point between songs. “You brighten up my day!”
Wait, what? Were we all really that happy now? Apparently so, and embracing our advancing age alongside a band that seemed perfectly at peace with its senior rock 'n' roll status.
“This is a song from our first cassette, when we were very, very young,” said bassist Lou Barlow. “We are a very, very fast band, but we're gonna play it slow, because we are old.”
They beat out a punk number from their 1985 debut album, "Dinosaur," before diving into the familiar territory of "Freak Scene" from 1988's "Bug." “So don’t let me . . . up will you / when I need a friend it’s still you,” Mascis sang.
That’s just how we feel, Dinosaur Jr.