Maybe it was his recent appearances on Portlandia, late night TV appearances or just his excellent new release Tied to a Star on Sub Pop, but whatever the reason J Mascis sold out the Bowery Ballroom Friday night to a wide range of fans. All ages genders and races were in attendance to see the guitar maestro take on his catalog of songs solo.
Before that would happen though the Australian duo Luluc opened the show. Focusing on their most recent release Passerby, Zoe Randell and Steve Hassett displayed absolutely gorgeous harmonies in the live setting. With minimal instrumentation (at times two guitars or an acoustic and an electric bass) the team had the packed club applauding heartly when they wrapped up.
J Masics came out after a short break with minimal stage set. Armed with just two acoustic guitars, a flat brimmed baseball cap and a fleet of foot pedals the alt rocker strummed and picked his way through 16 tunes. While he is a natural mega guitarist, his vocals didn’t start off so confident but during the opening pairing of “Listen to Me” and “Me Again” he sounded assured and chill. Those tracks and others off Tied To A Star like “Stumble and “Heal The Star” were featured but he also dipped into lots of Dinosaur Jr. tunes and covers.
The stripped down playing was augmented by layers of echoes in the microphone, loops and feedback in the pedals, adding some depth to normally lumbering/soaring jams such as “Out There” and “Get Me”. While the effects made things more interesting it is still hard to hear a track like “Little Fury Things” and not see/feel/be shaken by Murph slamming his skins next to Lou Barlow growling on 4-string and into the mic.
With no guests though, the solo highlights were saved until the end as J played a stunning cover of Mazzy Star’s “Fade Into You” before his most emotional offering “Alone” closed the main set. Before fans left he treated the thankful crowd to his take on The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and while there was no thunderous finale, the textured playing on this Friday night proved J Mascis’ songs work with any level of volume.