Freakscene: The Story of Dinosaur Jr. @ Festival du Nouveau Cinema

The anti-rock star rock band. After watching this documentary you will agree that is the perfect description of Dinosaur Jr. A rock band that did not buy into the celebrity, groupies or publicity side of things. They just wanted to make music…or did they?

For the unenlightened out there, Dinosaur Jr. is an American rock band. Hailing from Amherst, Massachusetts they got together in 1984, Initially, the band was called Dinosaur but because another band had the name they were forced to change it so became Dinosaur Jr. That alone would give you a hint into what type of band this was/is. The members definitely are not your run-of-the-mill musicians.

The original members were J Mascis (guitar/vocals), Lou Barlow (bass) and Murph (drums). After recording and releasing three albums via an independent label, they were looked at as the grandfathers of American alternative music. Mascis and Barlow did not get along so Mascis, who wrote the band’s music, fired Barlow and brought in a new bassist, Mike Johnson. They then released three major label albums. Tension continued, however, and it led to Murph quitting the band. Mascis assumed the drumming duties. Things did not get any better internally and so Dinosaur Jr. broke up in 1997. By this time they were credited as the fathers of the grunge movement of the 90s. The three original members of the band got back together in 2005 and recorded five more albums.

It is revealed that, like many bands, the members did not always or necessarily get along. It was a struggle to stay together long enough to record music and play live shows.

Watching the doc, directed by Philipp Reichenheim, it wavers between a work that was either made by someone who had a lot of access to the band or an obsessive fan. There was obviously plenty of work which went into the making of the film. Lots of interviews including band members and other musicians like Kim Gordon (Sonic Youth) and Henry Rollins. There is also an amazing amount of black and white and amateur shot footage of the band playing live. Then you find out that the director is Mascis’s brother-in-law. Pieces fall in place as to why the band who has never been very open to publicity or interviews is suddenly telling all.

In an example of how getting older puts things in perspective, a warm-hearted moment occurs after the band gets back together, makes up, forgets the previous hard feelings, and fights to just focus on their common love of music. They just go back to making music. A band like Dinosaur Jr. exists to remind us all of this. It is not the clothes, videos, interviews, personalities, magazine covers that make a band; it is the music.

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