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Anton, Goddamn You, You Did It Again

When you are going to see the Brian Jonestown Massacre, there is a wide spectrum of quality that the performance can attain. On one side, the music can almost feel like a narcotic, rushing and pushing no-compromise rock and roll directly into your mainline. Or, it can be like an American Boy Scout Jamboree; you're waiting for the President to speak, but your counselors keep getting electrocuted and bodies are strewn about waiting for treatment for heat exhaustion. Last night, at the Phoenix concert theatre, the Massacre (as only they can) achieved a little bit of both. Sometimes, in the same bloody song.

Straight from the gate, frontman/wildman Anton Newcombe was in high spirits. He spoke with verve and many fuck-words to the endlessly gratified audience of close to 1000 (I've heard.) After a particularly tumbling and fun "Let Me Stand Next to Your Flower", the band launched into a powerful "When Jokers Attack". Upon conclusion of the lyrical portion of the song, the band ended with what felt like a 30-minute drum solo. This was occasionally paired with some bass, or some guitar, but for the most part, the band wasn't on stage. Just a drummer. Hmmm.

Anton later explained that he had in fact broken his "fucking guitar." No sweat. But something had caught. Every song spiraled into an extended jam that pulled the parameters of the piece in every direction. The ethereal qualities were boiled up to the surface, skimmed out, than made into a reduction. Pulsing versions of "Nevertheless", "Sailor", and "Telegram" followed, each song being re-invented accidentally before our eyes. The band continued until 1:35 AM, when a juggernaut take on "Swallowtail" sent the audience into the heights of decadent bitterness as the sneering Anton sang to a disruptive audience member, "...like kicking all your front teeth out, and screaming in your face!".

The overall effect of the show was top drawer. But I can't give the gig a 10, on the grounds that there is almost no reason for a 30 minute drum solo. I'm sorry. In-A-Godda-De-Vita be damned. Also, the girl next to me had a similar hairstyle to mine and kept kissing Anton between songs. People though it was me. So, the show lost a point for that too.


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