Apart from scouring setlist.fm and delving into his most recent release, Tied To A Star, attempting to predict a J Mascis solo performance is tantamount to walking into a hybrid art/sandwich shop on Santa Monica and demanding the burnout at the register to give you the best thing on the menu. One can probably predict some components of both orders (Sprouts, “Out There”, Dijon mustard air-lifted from Malta, “Little Fury Things”) it’s otherwise going to be a surprising 90 minutes. Such was the case with J’s show at Sunset Blvd’s infamous Echo, the hole in the wall with the spectacular roster of acts.
J enveloped the stage with his wizard-like presence, armed with an acoustic guitar and a variety of pedals. Lumbering into a comically small folding chair for his height (though only 6’ 1” he seems nearly 7 foot) “All right,” said J, kicking off the night with an appropriate salutation and one of about 10 words he spoke during the entirety of the set. J isn’t much for chatter while he’s playing, his virtuoso capabilities would only be hampered by stories of playing the circuit in the 90’s and palling around with Fred Armisen. J would smile to himself in between songs as he retuned and configured his distortion to give the artifice of his iconic Jazzmaster.
Though he only played an acoustic the entire night, it was unsurprisingly the best acoustic guitar playing this reviewer has ever seen live. Seeing J Mascis so effortlessly shred is akin to watching something like a modern day Paganini work his magic in a dark club. J is forever unfazed by his supreme prodigy-like skills, never contorting his face into the disgusting mug that so many get while noodling, nor seeming as though he has lost even an ounce of steam during the performance.
Seeing J in person is akin to entering a trance-like state.
J happily plodded along with the new material, as did he play the Dinosaur Jr. tracks with unbridled (think Mascis level unbridled) enthusiasm. J’s cover of the Mazzy Star classic Fade Into You was the highlight of the set, an enormously powerful cover that may as well tuck into original into bed and blow out the candle.
Somehow, someway, collectively as a crowd we Echo-goers managed to coax J out for not one but two encores, allowing ourselves to splendor in “Out There” and the formidable version of “Just Like Heaven” from the formidable You’re Living All Over Me.
Seeing J in person is akin to entering a trance-like state. Here is a indisputable Guitar God descending from on high to deliver unto us the sludgiest riffs he has to offer. We also get the supreme opportunity to hear some of the most delicate playing from any Sub Pop player out there. It’s rare to hear such an intense dichotomy of sound in under two hours, yet if anyone can do it, J can.
Born and raised on classic rock and oldies, Jake Tully consumed music voraciously growing up in Central California. He has his wonderful grandparents to thank for his love of music, as well as the amazing luck to have seen hundreds of concerts in his lifetime. He considers himself an eclectic consumer of all media, and further reading can be found at his blog.