Thursday, May 10, 2012

Concert Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre at The Urban Lounge

Posted By on May 10, 2012, 1:05 PM

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Maybe my hopes were a little too high. One friend described his past experience of The Brian Jonestown Massacre in concert as “mercurial.” I’d say meditative and boring.---

Part of the rock-concert experience is to be touched by the artist as they unfold their canon, as they create music that is unique in time and place, as they offer the unexpected. On the other side of the spectrum, when a band or musician is off the handle, it can ruin a show. But that’s long been the lure of the Anton Newcombe-led California psych-rock troupe. Newcombe’s oddities were portrayed keenly in the documentary Dig!, and he has been well-documented to go berserk in concert -- once telling a concertgoer that he will “fucking kill them.”

There were no such onstage antics at The Urban Lounge tonight. It was more like this.

I don’t profess to be a devout BJM fan, but I do love their albums (probably even more than the band’s exciting drama of years past), from Take it from the Man! to their latest 2012 release Aufheben. So, I can’t exactly say which songs did and didn’t work (in truth, they were all a bit muddied anyway), other than that 75 percent of the show didn’t work.

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There were a couple things at play here: For one, even with a large number of onstage musicians (my favorite was the guy who’s sole job was to play the tambourine -- see above on the left; the guy wearing sunglasses), they couldn’t recreate the diverse sonic landscape of records past. Next, the boys were just phoning in the show; there was no magic, no engaging with the crowd. Finally, many of the songs have a similar drone, thus creating a trance-like meditative vibe unbecoming of the midnight hour (or my lack of really putting on a heavy buzz).

I can’t speak for everyone. The sold-out attendees slightly nodded in time, although it seemed like the music turned everyone into the upright dead. I left early, which is extremely rare for me. I hear that I missed an encore with a “Sympathy for the Devil” medley. Although that would have been swell, it wouldn’t have been nearly enough to save the show for me.

photos by Dom Darling

Join Austen Diamond on Twitter: @AustenDiamond

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