Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Brian Jonestown Massacre Played The Independent - Pictures, Review

San Francisco must have some special blessing for being Brian Jonestown Massacre's city of origin. Despite the reels of film depicting Anton Newcombe as a tyrannical despot, and despite the numerous accounts of these events actually being true, it seems that every time the band is in town they simply deliver, and deliver in force.

Last time we saw them was about a year and a half ago. Despite a debacle involving a closed Bay Bridge, the band still managed to show up, play a massive, incredibly solid set, and hail the return of tambourineist extraordinaire Joel Gion. Well, this time around, things were no different: the band offered up an incredibly bulletproof and lengthy set, and Gion was still in attendance. Not only that, but we were in disbelief to witness the return of none other than Matt Hollywood!

Hollywood's departure from the band was a huge moment in the film Dig, and frankly was so dramatic that we were downright shocked to see him as the band took the stage. Nonetheless, it seems that bygones are truly bygones. Hollywood stuck to the stage throughout the show, singing on a huge number of tunes, and delivering a totally solid performance. We must say, having both Hollywood and Gion in the band really gives it a much more unified feel. Despite their high technical skill, the band's lineup was starting to seem something like a revolving door. It was nice to be able to watch the band and get the feel that they were truly a unit. Even more impressive was that Newcombe also seems to have buried the hatchet.

Besides giving Hollywood and Gion plenty of room, and introducing them personally, Newcombe's stage persona was toned down in general. Over the course of something like three hours (we forgot to check our watch), Newcombe kept himself firmly isolated to one side of the stage, often in the dark, and seemed intent to simply deliver a solid performance. Only at one point (to restart a song) did Newcombe seem to venture anywhere near the primadonna vibe that has so dogged him in the past. It was fantastic to see such a solid musician finally allowing himself to relax and play a fantastic set.

And the set was fantastic. From start to finish, it was an unrelenting exploration into the music that makes BJM such a renowned live act. The droney, layered guitars, the unabashedly Brit-aping vocals, and the catchiness of songs that in many ways seem like they really shouldn't be catchy: it's a marvel to behold.

Suffice it to say, it seems that BJM are finally managing to distance themselves from the self destructive behavior that made Dig such a tragedy. Even more spectacular is that as they do so, people are taking notice. Not only is the band opening for Primal Scream, but they're selling out venues on their own on the off days. There wasn't a ticket to be had at the Independent, and deservedly so - BJM is on the rebound. If they're coming round your way, we highly recommend you stop in. You won't be sorry.

mp3: Brian Jonestown Massacre - That Girl Suicide

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive