Just before Dinosaur Jr.’s performance on the Woods Stage at Pickathon 2017, security cleared the backstage areas surrounding the tiny performance space, which is nestled at the bottom of a lush natural amphitheater. Journalists, photographers, friends of the band—it didn’t matter if you were guitarist J. Mascis’ mom — everyone had to leave.
This wasn’t some egomaniacal power play. As the exodus of VIPs streamed into the crowd, it became very clear that this was a necessity. The band’s equipment was simply too big to safely navigate the winding path leading up to the stage. And if anyone in the back of the audience was still confused by the commotion, they only needed to look up at the almost comical wall of Marshall amplifier stacks being assembled on stage.
It wasn’t just for show, either. Playing a set of both new and old songs, Dinosaur Jr. used those amps. And although it comes close, this recording doesn’t do the performance justice. Halfway through this version of the band’s classic 1993 release “Start Choppin,” I felt like I’d been sonically mugged … in the best possible way.
Pickathon turns 20-years-old this year and returns on Aug. 3-5, with a lineup that features Built To Spill, Shakey Graves, Broken Social Scene, Phosphorescent and Jamila Woods.
The Pickathon Woods Series was made possible by support from Klean Kanteen.