Fulton 55 continues to prove what some in the scene had been saying for years. Fresno needed a well-booked, well-staffed mid-sized venue that could consistently attract second- and third-tier touring acts. The Save Mart Center got us The Rolling Stones, but the city needed a place that would attract the likes of … well, Dinosaur Jr.
The Shrine: Three-piece fuzz-toned stoner rock from Long Beach. They’ve been through town a few times. I caught them the first time around and was a fan. But within a month, I got introduced to American Sharks, and mostly forgot about the Shrine.
Glad for the reintroduction. The band was in fine form as the opener, with a quick, but blistering set. This is what it must have been like seeing early Ted Nugent, in terms of the raw furiosity. This is pure-form rock-and-roll. Guitarist Josh Landau is particularly impressive. It’s like the dude doesn’t play rhythm lines. It’s all runs and solos and feedback squeal. And it is awesome.
Quick note to the promoter: The Shrine played several dates as opener on this tour, but why was there no local support here? There were any number local bands (Quiet Americans, Sparklejet, Light Thieves, to name three) who would have worked well with the tone of the evening. I understand logistics sometimes makes these things impossible, but it’s always nice to see the local scene represented on stage and it doesn’t happen enough on these kinds of shows.
Dinosaur Jr.: Hipster alert. This band is cool. Like, for fans of serious underground indie-rock. That’s not to say they aren’t also really awesome or that the songs aren’t great. Just that it is the type of band that has appeal for being sort of obscure. Dinosaur Jr. helped define the sound of the alternative nation before it was foisted upon the mainstream. They also played Coachella this year, so …
The band is known for being loud and J Mascis’ guitar gear (three full Marshall stacks semi-circled around him) was ominous for sure. The vocals were a bit low in the mix and that muddied the sound, but that sort of worked with the band’s lo-fi vibe. While the guys are known for creating waves of sonic distortion, it was the quick off moments where the guitar tone was clean and jangley that captured me most. Layered under all the noise is some really beautiful stuff.