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The Crack Magazine

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Freak Scene - The Story of Dinosaur Jr.

Director: Philipp Reichenheim

Features: J. Mascis, Lou Barlow, Murph, Kim Gordon, Bob Mould, Thurston Moore

This documentary portrait of hugely influential East Coast rock band, Dinosaur Jr. is a kind of slacker soap opera that also serves as a snapshot of the late 80s/early 90s US alt rock scene. Hardcore musicians J. Mascis and Lou Barlow formed the band in Amherst Massachusetts in 1984 with drummer Murphy completing the line-up. After moderate success with a couple of independent albums and a growing reputation as a formidable live act, the band broke through with 1988 album ‘Bug’ which featured the titular hit single. By this time Mascis’s fuzzy, feedback guitar sound was exerting an influence on the nascent grunge scene with Nirvana citing them as an influence. Creative differences resulted in Mascis firing Barlow who went off to success with his own bands, Sebadoh and Folk Implosion. A reunion came later.

Director Reichenheim’s presentation is workmanlike but effective, mixing DIY-looking archive footage with talking head interviews with the likes of Sonic Youth’s Kim Gordon and Henry Rollins, both exhibiting an enthusiasm that would marked them down as terminally uncool back in the day. The notoriously uncommunicative Mascis’s contributions are monosyllabic and drawling, but blanks are filled in by the frank and honest Barlow and self-effacing Murph. The music, of course, is great.

Freak Scene -The Story of Dinosaur Jr. is out now

David Willoughby

Follow David at DWill_Crackfilm 

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