Gig Review: Brian Jonestown Massacre w/ The KVB

Thursday 19th December @ The Hi-Fi Bar

The motherfucking Brian Jonestown Massacre. A portmanteau of a Rolling Stones guitarist that went too early, and a mass suicide from a cult. So, basically you’re just asking for a night of sarcastic, slightly deranged neo-psych.

Packed onto the balcony, I watched as The KVB opened up the night. Fuck, I was so stoked to see these guys do their thing. Having been a massive fan since the ‘Beko_73’ EP, Their brand of Jesus & Mary Chain-on-speed-whilst-being-run-through-a-tree-shredder is unique to say the best. But would it be a case of sounding really fucking good on record?

For the most part, yes. Although their sound is weird and wonderful and unique and disturbingly beautiful, it doesn’t hold its Black Swan-level of magnificence onstage. Golden Globe-level tunes, but not an Oscar-worthy performance. #needsmoreNataliePortman. Anyway, enough of this bullshit, The KVB are a sick band, but that night they didn’t bring it. Maybe it was the support slot in a country very fucking far away from London, maybe it was the sparse crowd that was more than content to simply nod along, or maybe the mashed guitar noise and thundering drum machine wasn’t connecting. Whatever happened, The KVB looked a bit bored on stage, and their songs didn’t mesh with the audience.

Although The KVB didn’t permit the frothing reaction that the band had perhaps hoped for, The Brian Jonestown Massacre sure elicited a fine response. A completely packed out Hi-Fi Bar went absolutely fucking nuts as Anton and Co. hit the stage, all eight musicians hunkering down on the stage to play through a breezy set of new and old stuff.

The songs on the night were above and beyond spectacular. There was no point in which someone in the audience wasn’t jumping up and down in deranged excitement at their personal favourite Jonestown track. That’s the thing with this band-they’re so diverse and always offer such a smorgasbord of delights, that its damn near impossible to hunker down and find two fans with exactly the same favourite BJM song. My personal favourites from the band (which sadly weren’t played that night) are ‘Let’s Go Fucking Mental’ and ‘Free and Easy, Take 2’. Nonetheless, I was more than stoked to be able to bop along next to a middle aged mother on my left and acid tweaker on my right.

Another thing, is that the band, especially Newcombe, have moved very far away from their portrayal in ‘Dig!’, the fantastic documentary that they featured in, along with The Dandy Warhols. Yes, I realise that most of the original members have moved on from the band, but the volatile, anything-can-happen vibe that the band so pungently threw out in their 90’s heyday is long gone. Instead, a total, meditative relaxation shrouds the concert, allowing the music to freely intertwine between audience and band. Whilst the documentary shows Newcombe trying to do whatever he can to sustain the high of live performing, in 2013, he and the band are easy to just let it come to them.

As for crowd interaction, well the constant amount of joints that were lit throughout the night were a testament to what kind of band The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Their hippie rock n roll (generally speaking of course) attracts a certain crowd, and the constant orange glows in the dark, cavernous Hi-Fi Bar showed that people were more than willing to join the ‘I Got High At A BJM show’ club. Seriously, I’m not kidding, the audience hot-boxed the fucking Hi-Fi Bar, that’s an accomplishment and a half.

Overall, the Brian Jonestown Massacre killed it onstage. Cool without trying at all, super spaced out and beautiful songs, and a set closer of ‘Oh Lord’ that had the crowd up in arms of where their lives could go now that they had experienced such a glorious high. Can’t ask for much more than that. Oh yeah, did I mention that there’s a guy (Joel Gion) who’s sole job is to play the tambourine in the world’s coolest band? Sounds like a Brian Jonestown Massacre show to me.

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