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Liberty Lunch
Austin, Texas
February 8th, 1992

After a five-minute barrage of feedback strum climaxed My Bloody Valentine's performance, the pair of good 'ol boys working back-gate security pronounced the band the loudest and worst they'd ever heard. In rock, what goes around comes around, though not necessarily in a manner designed to please earlier generations. Where punk was supposed to spell the death of the guitar hero, it has belatedly produced a mutant strain - one that's in gloriously high-decibel evidence on the current tour pairing Britain's My Bloody Valentine and Massachusetts's Dinosaur Jr.

Masterminded by guitarist Kevin Shields, the two-man, two-woman Valentine turned ambient guitar into a force field of sound - New Age repititions to rattle the teeth of the deaf. Even more than on the record, the band made melody subliminal and vocals an indecipherable element of the mix, distilling its sound into a warped drone of controlled chaos (like the Jesus and Mary Chain with its batteries running down). By the time Shields said good night - the first words to the audience by any member of the band - no one could hear him.

After giving the sellout crowd an hour to recover, Dinosaur Jr responded to MBV's challenge with a powerhouse performance of its own, one that left the offhand erratics of previous tours behind. With material drawn heavily from last year's album Green Mind, guitarist J Mascis and band (drummer Murph and recent bass recruit Mike Johnson) transformed The Wagon into a double-time blitzkrieg, exchanged the acoustic underpinnings of Blowing It for a full surge of electricity and turned the recent single Whatever's Cool With Me; into a tour de force.

Throughout the set, hooks that are almost pop met musical mayhem that was almost hardcore. If this sounds like a recent recipe for success, one of the mysteries of Nirvana's mainstream ascendancy is that Dinosaur Jr didn't get there first. - Don McLeese

Originally appeared in Rolling Stone, April 2, 1992. Copyright © Rolling Stone