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Two of my favorite Brian Jonestown Massacre album titles have got to be Thank God for Mental Illness and Take It from the Man since they’re both simple, direct statements that immediately reveal the provocateur mind of main man/songwriter Anton Newcombe.

Tonight’s nearly sold out show at the lofty Terminal 5 proves that since 1990, BJM’s narcotic, neo-psych, shoegazer niche of rock and roll and Newcombe’s retro/modern, non-conformist mystique is still stretching its tendrils to find more and more fans.

Standing way off to stage right and bent over his guitar or mic stand for the length of the show, Newcombe was barely visible, especially to those of us in the balcony above him. (You’ve got to love a front man who leaves the front and center position to longtime guitarist Frankie Teardrop and percussionist Joel Gion).

Gone were Newcombe’s antagonistic rants or hissy fits of yore, except for two brief back-and-forths, one with a pesky fan who was probably testing out a faux slur to see if he could create a Dig!-like challenge from the singer.

Gone also were the long delays between songs and inter-band quarrels (though recent reports of a chaotic BJM gig in London culminating with Teardrop being stabbed in the stomach by an unknown backstage reveal that the band isn’t always as “of one mind” and cool as they appeared at this NYC show).

Luckily, tonight’s was a sparkling set that flowed fairly smoothly from hit to hit, a few songs connected with the more fuzzed-out jams from the newest album, My Bloody Underground. Blissed-out audience members turned to festivities like crowd surfing and singing in unison whenever an older, favorite tune rolled back into place. Each time a hit with a love-in vibe like “Whoever You Are”, “Here It Comes” or “Yeah-Yeah” swelled from the beginning guitar jangles to reach its lush, sung chorus (e.g. “The voices of angels sing in my head/they tell me don’t worry I’m already dead”), the band soared, each member appearing quite the happy, hippy collective and pleased with the result.

Though many assumed BJM wouldn’t easily pull off this one-off U.S. gig in such a vast space, they did it with aplomb, and it was undoubtedly one of the best shows I’ve seen them play. Hats off to BJM for “tearing it up” without tearing anything up.–MVW/photo by Tim Nestor

 
  1. The show was sensational and everyone was in top form both on and off stage! Backstage gossip revealed that there had been an incident before the show at Terminal 5 when Anton Alfred Newcombe reprimanded Maya Caballero for slapping her mother, April Sandmeyer. “Did you just hit your mother!?”, Anton inquired. Maya knew better than to answer, but everyone heard the loud smack when her hand came down hard on her mother’s buttocks after she watched in horror as her mother locked lips with guitarist, Frankie Teardrop Emerson.

    Mother and daughter were special guests seated on stage behind Anton throughout the show. (Maybe he stayed close to them to keep a watchful eye on them?) April claimed the kiss was just a friendly peck because she and Frankie were so happy to see each other (although witnesses say otherwise); whereas Maya said that she was utterly “grossed out” and “disgusted” by the uninhibited public display of affection.

    Why Maya was so upset is another story. Apparently, there is a long complicated history of the mother’s and daughter’s relationships with BJM. Luckily, there wasn’t a Terminal 5 massacre. All happily went off to the after party.

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  2. Where did this story come from?! What lies. This never happened! Just goes to show that you can’t believe everything you read.

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  3. thank God for mental illness

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  4. drama drama. where would we be without it? it’s the reason we love brian jonestown massacre, afterall.

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  5. I thought we liked them because of the music.

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  6. Haha. That is hilarious!Can’t wait for their next show.

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  7. It’s all about the drama…and the music! They compliment each other. What would a BJM show be without antics like these?

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  8. This is absurd! There was never anything other than friendship between the band members, including Frankie, and myself! It’s nice to have warm friends that give each other a nice hug and kiss when they see you. My daughter, Maya, thinks she’s my mother sometimes, but the person that made the comment about the incident is obviously a gossip!

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