Nobody gets hurt
It’s quite conceivable that the Brian Jonestown Massacre is at the apex of its fame. It’s always been a relatively well-known band among indie-rock fans, but never before has it broken into the mainstream the way it has now—a fact almost wholly due to Dig!, the recent documentary tracking the band’s progress from relative obscurity to relatively credible obscurity.
Dig! is entertaining to be sure, but that has nothing to do with music. Instead, the film focuses on the diatribes, breakdowns, fisticuffs, heroin addiction and general madness of Anton Newcombe, the principal songwriter, singer and guiding force of the Brian Jonestown Massacre. As local blogger Heckasac has pointed out, the film pretty much casts Newcombe as the new G.G. Allin.
The emergence of this new fame happened to coincide with the band’s recent show at Old Ironsides. Would Newcombe freak out? Punch out band members? Assault the audience? Have a breakdown? Would he even play? Would he play well?
The answers are “Sort of” and “Yes.” There was some characteristic Newcombe-the-asshole (which, post-film, has the feeling of schtick at this point). He berated his band for playing badly after the first song, throwing the backing singer’s microphone and stand and then yelling, “Do I have to do everything?”
In the end, the lack of real violence felt somehow disappointing, which brings up the saddest facet of Newcombe’s new celebrity: In many ways, it overshadows his music. The band’s 1996 release Their Satanic Majesties’ Second Request remains a landmark album that retains a feel that has reverberated through much modern music. (It can be downloaded for free at www.brianjonestownmassacre.com.) The band’s current music—at least as evidenced by the live show—retains something of the droning quality of that album but is decidedly harder-edged. In a room that sometimes felt like it was 150 degrees, that harder edge certainly was appreciated.
If you missed that performance, there are other noteworthy shows happening this weekend. Folks in the know are already familiar with Bart Davenport, the Dead Hensons and Golden Shoulders—all of whom will appear at Old Ironsides on July 22—but the night’s opening act is someone you might not have heard of. James William Hindle is a British singer-songwriter who is definitely worth a listen. San Francisco’s Badman Recording Co. just released his new album. You’ll need to get to Old Ironsides early to catch his set; Hindle’s up at 10 p.m. sharp.
Also up this weekend is the Kimberly Trip’s CD-release show for You’ll Get Nothing and Like It on July 23. It’s a True Love in Exile show at Mother India, where the band will celebrate becoming a big hit on Filipino radio. (I’m not kidding.)
If that’s not your speed, then you’ll want to visit the Boardwalk the same night when Luxt takes the stage for the last time. The band is celebrating 10 long years come to an end. The show also will mark the return of Absent Me to area stages after a year hiatus. Visit www.luxt.com for more info.