Tuesday, September 4, 2007

2007-09-03: Brian Jonestown Massacre @ The Independent

Tonight, Anton Newcombe made me a believer.

At 9 PM, things didn't look good: neither band had arrived at the venue, and it was making out to be one of the BJM's notorious disasters frequently outlined in the film Dig!. Take it forward another hour until 10: still no instruments on stage, still no bands, still looking bad. Half an hour more: Finally, an explanation: the band hadn't realized that the bay bridge was closed for labor day weekend, so they ended up having to go to Richmond bridge, and ended up being about two hours late. Understandable, and shitty. Everyone took it in stride: the crowd was happy that by now, the bands had arrived and the opener had set up. An anxious, hot, and tired crowd waited desperately for something to happen. And something did.

Dimmer front-man Shayne P Carter

New Zealand natives Dimmer started out the night by doing the seemingly impossible. They got a bunch of tired fans to actually like the opener. They used their sonic might to slay the crowd, and reel them in for more. A restless mass that had been waiting for BJM to arrive was thoroughly enthralled by the 4-piece's powerful, droney, shoegaze rock. The band was such a solid compliment to the headliners that it almost could have been a double bill. I unknowingly asked the lead singer of Dimmer as he set up his rig (I thought he was a roadie) - "Will the opener still be playing?" "I hope so" he replied ironically. I'm glad he was right, and by the look of the line at the merch table, the crowd felt the same way.

Now it was time for the crowd to tolerate another half hour of downtime for the inevitable set change between acts: all was well and good following Dimmer's fantastic set. Slowly the PA switched over to a heartbeat driven noise track which was gradually complimented by the playing of the band. 11:45: Enter Brian Jonestown Massacre. Surprise: Joel Gion. San Francisco resident, former band member, sometimes guest, proceeded to remain on stage for the entire show.

What was that show, exactly? It was a non-stop blast of rock and roll, two hours of mayhem and noise, with a little bit of chaos thrown in for good measure. I mentioned that last summer in Sacramento, the impression from Dig! was very similar to the impression I got in person. Tonight was dramatically different. The band was in fantastic form, and seemed to be getting along. The only snags were a momentary heckler from the audience, and a wonky mic cable. Other than that, it was a completely solid jam. The band played new material ("Preambulatory", see video below) and ended the set with a killer "Love Is a Drug" jam, followed by "Telegram".

What all of this came together to make me realize is that Anton Newcombe truly is a unique talent. Previously I had always wanted to believe this, but had never seen it for myself. Tonight I did. The current incarnation of BJM is a hardy, talented team of musicians, who have a lot to offer when they get their ducks in a row. If this show was any indication of what's coming up from Brian Jonestown Massacre, then we all have a lot to look forward to.

Brian Jonestown Massacre plays the Independent again tomorrow, the show is sold out. Get a ticket, if you can.
Many, many, more pictures available at the h.a.d. flickr feed.

Video of the newest tune, Preambulatory, forthcoming.


Alexander Laurence said...

I posted some photos of the LA shows on my blog.

M said...

He didn't berate the crowd? Sounds like he did it both nights in LA. I reviewed it on my site too. lasnark.com

Matt said...

you should check out Gion's band, The Dilettantes. They're good too.