Music so good, it transcends decades and reunites friends
By Becca Carlson
*This article originally appeared on the ecorsair.com in April 2017.
March 26 was a night for reunion, but not necessarily for the late 1980s rock group Dinosaur Jr. The band finally made it to Pensacola, 33 years after forming, and Pensacola State College instructor Jamey Jones knew he wanted to share this memorable experience with girlfriend Rachael Pongetti and good friend Scott Satterwhite. All three were DJ live-show virgins.
Since their official reunion in 2005, singer/lead guitarist J Mascis, drummer Patrick “Murph” Murphy and bass player Lou Barlow have produced new albums as well as appeared in “reunion” performances. Many regard this as the third incarnation of DJ, considering the 1984-’89 success, the ‘89-’94 years without Barlow and finally the original lineup reconciliation 12 years ago.
Coming from a small Massachusetts town with a population about 30% less than Pensacola, DJ played to a packed out Vinyl Music Hall for a different kind of reunion show. Jones, who teaches English and Communications at PSC, rocked out with Pongetti, a local photographer, and Satterwhite, an English Instructor at the University of West Florida.
“It was terrific to be there with Rachael and Scott,” said Jones. “Rachael wasn’t too familiar with the music, but she’s very open-minded and good at having fun wherever she’s at—plus, I’m completely smitten over her, which is a pleasure. [Scott] is forever cool and never pretentious—a rare combination. He’s also one of my best friends.”
The event offered an opportunity for longtime friends, like Jones and Satterwhite, to reunite and reminisce while hearing the band kick ass on stage.
“We had a good time catching up beforehand,” said Satterwhite. “I think the world of them. It’s also nice to go with people that appreciate the music, like Jamey in particular. He’s been a good friend for a long time, and I like hanging out.”
It was clear that for many local fans this was a once in a lifetime event that could not be missed. “I’ve wanted to see them for over 20 years, so this was cool,” said Satterwhite. The historian in me finally meets the teenager-me, and I was happy to see them.”
DJ is often compared to bands with an indie-rock sound— like Nirvana, however, they have a dynamic style that’s uniquely their own.
“What drew me to them instantly was their overall sound—at once powerfully messy yet melodic. And, of course, J. Mascis’ voice, which to me is perhaps the most interesting instrument in the band,” said Jones.
It’s not just the band’s musicality that sets them apart from others in their genre. Many DJ fans, including Satterwhite, especially identify with the painfully poetic lyrics provided primarily by Mascis.
“Their lyrics and J Mascis’ soft tone over the really wild guitar-works are what I really liked. Just like a lot of young people, I was always in the middle of some heartache back then, and his lyrics spoke to me,” said Satterwhite. “Jamey and I were talking about one line from a song that stood out to us: ‘I wanna tell you that I miss you, but I’m pissed you blew me off.’ Lyrics like that aren’t typical for heartbreak songs, but really speak to where I was then (and still feel now, to some extent).”
The raw talent and emotionally-rich lyrics of DJ withstand the test of time and appeal to rock lovers of all generations. Megan Tessier, a dual-enrolled student at PSC, has been a fan of the band for the last 10 years. She discovered DJ at an early age, but it didn’t take long for her to realize that songs like “Feel The Pain” (1994) and “Quick Sand” (1990) are as brilliant now as when they were written.
Tessier said that the bizarre and sometimes psychedelic album artwork by artist Maura Jasper adds to her interest in the band. She’s particularly drawn to the art and sound of Bug—one of DJ’s first albums.
The band has finished the U.S. leg of their latest tour promoting the Give a Glimpse of What Yer Not album. They will pick it up again in Europe beginning June 4 with a show in Switzerland.
Tessier echoed what many fans were most looking forward to at the show that night: “Seeing J Mascis shred on the guitar!”