Concert Review: Brian Jonestown Massacre

Taken by Eden Frost

Taken by Eden Frost

Eden Frost

Brian Jonestown Massacre

13 May 2014

Brian Jonestown Massacre brought out some of their best hits in a killer performance this weekend at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles, California showing they’re more than ready for their European tour and new album to release.

With their new album, Revelation, set to release next week on the 19th, Brian Jonestown Massacre showed they they’ve still got an immense amount of raw talent and an ever growing range of psychedelic tunes and feel good music to share with fans, even after 26 years. Despite decades of band drama, drug use, changing members and trying to manage success without going down a diluted path towards mainstream music, the San Francisco based band has managed to keep producing amazing music and delivering unforgettable live shows.

Saturday night’s show at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles was ridiculously good. While it took some time for the band to take the stage after two opening acts, The Three O’Clock and Joel Gion & the Primary Colours (a spin off project started by Brian Jonestown Massacre’s Joel Gion), their performance was well worth the wait! The Wiltern is definitely a venue I don’t mind lingering around in. Built in the 1930’s, The Los Angeles art deco theatre is one of my favorites with beautifully ornate walls and ceiling decorations, an extremely open floor section and a rad multi level lounge and bar area. The stage area itself gives audience members a choice of how close to the action they want to be, and a great view and amazing sound is guaranteed from wherever you are in the theatre. Though there’s obviously more room to get your dance on in the back, and with a band like BJM, you definitely want space to feel the music.

The band came out strong and excited as the 8 current band members took the stage amidst red and blue lights. Lead singer and notoriously outrageous front man Anton Newcombe and founding members Matt Hollywood and Ricky Maymi both on guitar were joined by longtime members Joel Gion on tambourine, Dan Allaire playing drums, keyboardist and guitarist Rob Campanella, guitarist Frankie Emerson and Collin Hegna on bass. It’s no wonder the band delivers such a rich and developing sound given their large range of instrumentals and many guitar styles all playing in the cohesive magic that is Brian Jonestown Massacre. They cover the basis of psychedelic rock and mix in elements or punk, blues, folk rock, and even some raga in their widely impressive discography of 12 (going on 13) studio albums, 7 EPs, live albums and several compilations.

The band delivered an ongoing set that got better with each song. While front man and founder Anton Newcombe (who has worked with The Dandy Warhols) is known for his outrageous stage behavior ranging from audience altercations, spats with his band mates, getting upset at song requests and onstage drug use, this was not the case on Saturday and the only thing that hit the audience was a wave of excitement, passion and dancing with every song.

Sampling some music from their upcoming album and playing some of their classic hits alike, audience members got to dance their hearts out to some of the best gritty and groovy psychedelic music that’s still around today. I was in awe watching a stage full of incredible musicians, each bringing their own presence and key elements to the sound. The tambourines and several guitars complimented the vocals and powerful percussion perfectly.

The band’s great sound was brought to the next level with the visual accompaniment of smoky fog and lights. An alluring light show captivated the audience as we fell into a trance listening to the music. While I was stoked to be seeing the band and enjoying their new music, I was so excited to hear familiar chords to some of my favorite songs, “Who?”, “Anemone”, “Prozac vs. Heroin”, and “Servo.”

BJM got things started with a fun one and the crowd fed off the energy beaming from the band on their catchy hit “Who?”, singing along with Newcombe during the chorus and jumping up down with the rising and falling vocals.  The band brought up vocalist Miranda Lee Richards to sing the female vocals on “Anemone.” Richards did an amazing job captivating the crowd with her hypnotic and practically majestic sounding voice lulling everyone into the scene. Richards was definitely comparable to the original female vocalist Mara Keagle who sang with the band on the recording of the song and toured with them for several years. “Prozac vs. Heroine” left an ironically calming affect on the crowd that swayed along to the music and one of the songs towards the closing of BJM’s set was another one of my favorites, “Servo.” The lyrics to the song were a perfect command for everyone on their way out to “let yourself go and have some fun” which I definitely did and am sure the rest of the fans did too.

The band is back in Europe now, playing shows in France before continuing on with the rest of their European tour. I’m looking forward to an American return, whenever that may be, but until then, their new album out May 19th will have to suffice!