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.


New: The Altered Hours-Sweet Jelly Roll EP

I was recently contacted by A Records. Never heard of it? Neither had I. However, there was a certain aspect that perked my interest and got my genital warts buzzing: the label is owned by no other than neo-pysch warlord Anton Newcombe, the frontman for the Boba Fett of bands, The Brian Jonestown Massacre. I collectively lost my shit at that fact, and immediately set upon checking out the band I had been sent, The Altered Hours.

The Altered Hours are a band straight outta Ireland, and they’re about as gangsta as a pigeon wearing two chains and smoking a fat blunt. If that sounds less gangsta and more awesomely bizarre, well then you’ve succeeded in understanding the point of the simile. The Altered Hours just released a 3 song 10″ and every track is damn delicious, and also incredibly diverse. I’ll start with my personal favourite track from the EP , ‘Smoke Your Eyes’, the song posted above. It’s like folk music meets drone, acoustically appetising but sonically appealing, all wrapped into a cozy cocoon of amazing. Then there is ‘Everyone is Inside’ a dangerously insane and wonderfully concise track that burns with vivacious intent, but is definitively cooler and less pretentious than my description warrants. Brooding Fugazi-bass/drum duelling connects with passion in the Black Angels-like flickering vocals and earnest guitar, and combines for awesomeness.

Now onto the main attraction, ‘Sweet Jelly Roll’. What the title insinuates as a food fetish song turns out to be a delicate, Blonde Redhead kinda thing, slowly dying guitar that mesmerises the listener with it’s final gasps of dramatic flourish. You should seriously consider checking out the video. It’s mind-bogglingly good, like Judd Apatow’s early movies good.

Overall, The Altered Hours are a diverse and proof that music is alive and well, especially in the hands of the one and only Anton Newcombe. Although I doubt The Altered Hours will be touring any time soon (which is legitimately a pity), The Brian Jonestown Massacre will be here in their neo-pysch glory in December for Meredith. MORE EXCITED THAN LUKE SKYWALKER DISCOVERING THE FORCE!