Looking back on the halcyon days of American underground rock circa 1988 or so, before the post-Nirvana feeding frenzy made everything “alternative” (turns out “the year punk broke” was an ending, not a beginning), Dinosaur Jr loom a lot larger for me than they did at the time. I remember seeing them at my college in upstate New York (before a group of 70s washouts forced them to add “Jr” to their name) and thinking, “Huh, not bad”–but if memory serves they were opening for Live Skull, and that’s who I was really excited to see. What matters now, though, is how Dinosaur Jr’s watermark albums, You’re Living All Over Me and Bug (reissued earlier this year), have held up. And the answer is: damn good. Byron Coley writes in his liner notes to Living that punk’s rebellion against rock ‘n’ roll ended just before this generation took the stage: “For them, punk was a kind of pre-school so they could learn to be rock and rollers.” And Dinosaur Jr, despite their hardcore cred (J Mascis and Lou Barlow started playing together in Deep Wound), always reeked of guitar-store-frequenting, effects-loving nerddom. For all their wuthering howls of primal agony, you can hear a sheer joy in playing that all but cancels out the obligatory alienation. You weren’t going to find a Cobain in this bunch–not as long as they still had that perfect wall of shimmering distortion to sustain them. This short tour features the original lineup of Mascis, Barlow, and drummer Murph; Mascis and Barlow are juggling solo dates of their own around the schedule. The Ponys and the Magik Markers open. See also Wednesday. Tue 11/29, 8 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $28.50, 18+.

Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Brantley Gutierrez.