J Mascis in Fort Collins

Nicholas Stock on December 12, 2018
J Mascis in Fort Collins

Washington’s has quickly become the premiere music venue in Fort Collins, Colorado. Originally built as the Akin Warehouse in 1903, it has been home to many other endeavors, most notably as Washington’s Bar and Grill beginning in the late 70’s. The Bohemian Foundation bought the building in 2016 and completely redesigned the space into a state of the art performance venue. They opened in February of this year with Trombone Shorty and have hosted numerous concerts since that time. Washinton’s recently welcomed the enigmatic genius behind Dinosaur Jr. J Mascis to perform a solo set for some enthusiastic fans. The night began with English crooner James Elkington.

Elkington has had a long and versatile career from founding The Zincs to working as heavily sought after sideman to his current solo endeavors. He is fresh off the heels of releasing his latest album Wintres Woma. Most of the setlist featured his new songs including “Hallow In Your House” an intricate finger picked tune that showed his whimsical style. He slowed it down a bit with his homage to sibling love “Sister of Mine.” He regaled us with a Far Eastern influenced psychedelic jam that alternated between heavy blues and buttery English Acid Rock. He closed the night with”Greatness Yet To Come” “…a song about taking LSD in England in the 1980’s.” James Elkington is a unique and talented singer-songwriter ready for a wider audience. His music is infectious and his musicianship is top notch. His 45 minute set was over too quickly.

J Mascis’ live show is a unique experience to say the least. His one hour on stage began with a subtle entrance from stage right. He picked up his guitar, strummed a few notes and looked at the audience before saying, “I’ll be right back.” He darted offstage and quickly returned to open with a tune off his first solo album “Thumb.” Mascis has been touted as a modern day Neil Young in a Post Punk world. His work with Dinosaur Jr. is seminal and incredibly influential. He kept the acoustic vibe going with “Listen To Me” off of the 2011 solo release, Several Shades Of Why. I should note that Mascis was performing completely alone flanked by a music stand and a single amp. It felt like a naked, raw performance from the heart, mainly because he had nowhere to hide.

Mascis’ solo work is sparse leaving room for the viewer to fill in the gaps. He then went into the title track for his new album Elastic Days, which he was promoting on this tour. He played the downtempo distorted rock romp “Ammaring” an ode to his Hindu spiritual leader Mata Amritanadamayi. Then we were treated to the another new track; a distorted shredfest juxtaposed against J’s signature vocals, “See You At The Movies.” “Drifter” had an epic tone and really displayed why Mascis is one of Rolling Stone’s “100 Greatest Guitarists.” Fans got a one more taste of the new stuff with the bright and bouncy chat about relationships “Everything She Said.” The remainder of his one hour set focused on some of his more renowned work. Elated fans danced feverishly to the the DJ classic “Wagon” before he went into “Not You Again” lovingly referred to as ‘blob’ on the setlist. He closed his set with “Alone” before quickly returning to encore with a huge rendition of “Blowing It.” The fact is we are a long ways from the “Ear Bleeding Country” days of Dinosaur Jr. What fans witnessed at Washington’s on a Sunday night in November was an elder J Mascis still raw, still gritty and most notably still genius.