Monday, August 08, 2005

Brian Jonestown Massacre at DC9

Now, I'd like to start out by saying that I am in no way bashing the Brian Jonestown Massacre (I don't want Anton Newcombe to come hunt me down), but this show was just not an enjoyable experience. I'd never been to a show before at DC9, and unless, say, David Bowie were to play there, I don't really plan on going back. The venue is the upstairs part of a bar and features a stage less than a foot above the ground, ceilings that are definitely no higher than about 8 feet and a questionable air conditioning system. This is not exactly the best environment to host 200 or so Brian Jonestown Massacre fans on a 90+ degree summer day. When I got to the top of the stairs, I was shocked to see how small the place was. There isn't even a backstage area, so all the bands' gear was on the floor, taking up a good chunk of potential standing room.

Openers Innaway had a bit of a Radiohead feel, from their sound to the strange animations that played on the back wall throughout the set. I was very impressed by their music but my only complaint was that every song followed the same formula: quiet start, louder chorus, quiet 2nd verse, chorus, long instrumental section, end. Still, I think this is a band that we might not have heard the last of, they just need a bit more guidance in their songwriting to give them that final shove they need. The second band to play was The Quarter After who, after starting out very strong with a bit of a Paul Westerberg sound, deteriorated very quickly into mediocrity and became increasingly more difficult to handle as people packed into the upstairs preparing for the BJM. By the end of their set, it was beginning to feel a bit like a sauna in there and they chose to play their longest, most jamtastic song as their final number. If I hadn't been so drained, I would have seriously considered attempting to strangle the lead singer with his microphone cord so they would get off the damn stage.

So clearly I wasn't in the best of spirits at this point, and the venue got more and more packed as we waited about 45 minutes for the Brian Jonestown Massacre to take the stage. They were good, but I have to say that I was a bit disappointed. The BJM is known for its extremely eclectic style and constant changing of musical direction from album to album, but they seem to have chosen one style, for now at least, and run with it. Gone were the sitars I was expecting to hear, as was the giant band that followed (frontman) Anton Newcombe around the country in the film DiG! Instead, they were just a normal five-piece rock band playing normal rock songs. After I began to realize that things weren't going to be getting too crazy (the band looked just as tired as I felt in that place), I turned to my friend Taylor and suggested that it might be about time to leave. After all, my eyes were burning from cigarette smoke, I'd probably lost ten pounds from sweating, and I couldn't see the band at all (apparently BJM fans are all tall, I mean, I'm 6'3" and I couldn't see a damn thing). So after 45 minutes and about seven or eight songs, we walked out the doors of DC9 and got in my car to head home. It wasn't a bad experience, and the three bands were definitely worth the $10, but it's not one I'd like to do over again. If the BJM decide to play the Black Cat when they come back to DC, I will definitely be there though.

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