Concert Reviews

Last Night: Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Granada Theater

Brian Jonestown Massacre, Flavor Crystals
Granada Theater
April 13, 2009

Better Than:
attending a seance while rolling on ecstasy.

If you noticed the bank of candles that greeted you as you walked through the Granada's double doors from the foyer into the theater, you could tell last night's show wasn't going to be your average show in the theater.

With Brian Jonestown Massacre it could be a very short night or a long one.

Thankfully the crowd was treated with the latter.

It was hard to tell exactly why the near-capacity crowd was at the show. Were they there to witness what could potentially be a train-wreck brought on by Anton Newcombe?  Or were they there to actually see a band play and enjoy the show?

The answer was clear at the beginning of BJM's show, as the crowd erupted into a deafening roar.  

Despite playing music that is rooted in 1960s psychedelia, the music of opening band Flavor Crystals and of Brian Jonestown Massacre couldn't be more different. While both bands bring a wall of sound to their live show, the Flavor Crystals has a steady loud drone punctuated with screeching guitars. Brian Jonestown Massacre, meanwhile, has a wall of sound punctuated with actual melody.

But despite being a band known as much for its dysfunctional antics as its music, the band rewarded the crowd with great song after great song all evening long. The approval of the crowd was the apparent at the beginning and end of pretty much every song, as the crowd continuously roared its approval.

Yes, Brian Jonestown Massacre was there to put on a show. And the closest the band came to an actual freak out was when several of the members took a partial encore break exiting the stage through the giant black curtain that backed them: As the band slowly came back on stage, the only one to lag behind was multi-instrumentalist Frankie Emerson--and several members playfully yelled for him to hurry up.

If anyone came out to see a train wreck they were probably pretty disappointed. But they were the only ones.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias: Tonight was my first time seeing Brian Jonestown Massacre. Previously, my only exposure to the band was through some of its songs that friends had played for me. And, of course, I've seen the documentary DiG!, too. I knew the band's music sounded good, but I was very impressed by how great the band sounds live.

By The Way:
The Flavor Crystals were, uh, less than impressive. I'm sure the band is great for a lot of people, but its particular brand of drone left a lot to be desired in my book. The band's set went from sounding like Jesus and Mary Chain on Xanax to a less impressive version of The Black Angels.

Random Note: This was probably one of the most courteous crowds I'd been a part of in quite a while. It's nice to stand around people and not have to listen to everyone around you talk all night.

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Lance Lester