Headliners: Dinosaur Jr.

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

Lou Barlow was having his way - no ifs, ands or buts.

"I was just absolutely inflexible about it," Barlow said of assigning himself as opening act for Dinosaur Jr.'s fall tour.

After releasing the introspective, acoustic Emoh in 2005, Barlow put his personal music on hold to reunite with the original Dinosaur Jr. lineup of singer-guitarist J Mascis and drummer Murph for the first time since their acrimonious split in 1989.

The trio has since produced two albums, 2007's Beyond and this year's Farm. The records sidestepped the reunion jinx and rekindled the genius of Dinosaur's work in the 1980s, when they ably applied the sludgy heaviness of hardcore to tuneful, classic rock-inspired songwriting.

With Dinosaur a going concern again, Barlow has had less time for other interests. He's spent much of his non-Dinosaur time in recent years touring with his other legendary indie-rock project, Sebadoh, but this year he finally got back to solo work.

His latest album, Goodnight Unknown, dropped this week. It's a 14-song sample platter of Barlow's career, with noisy guitar rock, folksy balladry and lo-fi pop united by his gloomy but hopeful outlook.

"With this record I wasn't really too concerned with reinventing myself," Barlow said. "On Emoh, I think it was a bit more of a traditional singer-songwriter record. On this record, I kind of wanted to make a record that was traditional to me."

With a new Dinosaur album out and a solo record to promote, Barlow was eager to combine the pursuits. So he recruited Mike Watt's touring band the Missingmen as his backing band and proclaimed himself the opening act for the Dinosaur tour that stops at the Newport on Saturday.

"Before I started doing this Dinosaur reunion, I was sort of on a parallel place with J," Barlow said. "Now it's like I need to be back on that parallel. I can't just be the bass player for Dinosaur Jr. I love it. I totally love Dinosaur Jr. I love playing in the band. But I also think it makes perfect sense for me to open up these shows.

"I just sort of forced it on the band. I'm like, This is what's going to happen. What do you think? Actually, don't tell me what you think because I don't care," Barlow added. "And my band's going to be on the bus with us. What do you think about that? Well, don't tell me because I don't care. If you've got a problem with it, I'm walking."

Mascis and Murph originally objected because they didn't want to listen to the same opening band for an entire tour. After Barlow pointed out that they never watch the opening band anyway, they relented.

He was careful to note that this good-natured squabbling was nothing like the group's bile-spitting feuds of yore.

"We're the same guys. It's the same dynamic ... It's just not evil anymore," he said. "We just have perspective. We kind of know what's important."

Despite his many projects - he's also toured and recorded under the names Sentridoh and The Folk Implosion - Barlow has never pulled double duty on a tour before.

"I think it kind of feels like I've done it before because when Sebadoh used to go on tour, we would play forever," he said. "We would chase people out of clubs, basically. We would play for three hours, easy. Dinosaur only plays for 70 minutes or so - 70 or 80 minutes."

With another kid on the way next year and some prolonged time at home with the family on his agenda, Barlow is eager to take advantage of this window.

"I've been waiting for four years to do something like this," Barlow said. "I put everything on hold to get Dinosaur reestablished. Now I just want a little bit back."

Dinosaur Jr.

When: 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10

Where: Newport Music Hall, Campus

Web: promowestlive.com