Brian Jonestown Massacre @ Urban Lounge 05.09

Posted May 14, 2012 in
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"I wish my girlfriend did coke," says Lamb, tonight's bromosexual, show-going buddy. He looks incredulously at the mess of goofballs filing into the Urban Lounge. "That way I'd fit in here." It's a dickish observation, but he really ain't far off the mark: Some middle ager with his shirt tucked in deep, the kind of guy who'd loiter in a 7-Eleven parking lot humming "Street Fighting Man," copping Steel Reserves for underagers, saunters by; A leathery gentleman with a long feather earring dances about like Beetlejuice; A bird in a baby onesie tugs downward on her skirt and a grip of kooks engage in that weird hippie dance—the one where they put their elbows at weird angles, raise their arms above their heads and shimmy like the world's collapsing in on itself.

"Maybe Brian Jonestown Massacre will get in a fight on stage though," Lamb says, a hopeful lilt drawing his voice into falsetto. "They're super dysfunctional." I guess when you have, like, fifteen people in your band, there's bound to be some disagreements. Ask Slipknot...or the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. We've all seen the Youtube footage.

"That girl with a boy haircut, or vice versa, sure has a set of pipes," says Lamb. He's talking about The Blue Angel Lounge. They're a psych band named for the NYC club frquented by Lou Reed, the Velvets and Nico. It's ghostly, unsettling and plenty compelling—a wall of shimmering noise, rumbling percussion and an unholy vocal register falling somewhere between Ian Curtis (blitzed on keyboard duster) and a gregorian chant. The stage banter makes 'em sound British. My girlie says Swedish. The papers say Germany. Somewhere in Europe where they kind of sound like Americans but kind of don't.

Hardcore's screwed me up royally. I can't (won't) pay more than $10 for a shirt. Lamb's unaffected though, and cops a Blue Angel Lounge one. Izzat an angel on it? Clever. "You know, Brian Jonestown Massacre is named after the guy in the Stones who died in a swimming pool," he says, and waits for me to correct him. I don't.

Brian Jonestown Massacre takes the stage. All nine, ten or eleven of them. "I'm gonna stay back here," says Lamb. "I don't wanna get contact drunk." He's pretty clever if you don't analyze it too hard. I sidle forward, cutting through a throng of undulating hipsters and try to make sense of the faces I've seen in the Dig! documentary. Newcome's on the other left side of the stage, a shaggy dog mop obscuring his slender face. Carruther's on drums, looking a little bit bored. Some guy in John Lennon glasses, a beret and a Reckless Records crew neck rolls his neck back and forth. If I wasn't so damn classy, I'd mention his uncanny resemblance to a chubbier Andy Warhol. He clicks a stick count on a tambourine and an entire commune of bleary eyed musicians lurches into "Stairway to the Best Party" from the new album. If Lamb was here with me, he'd mention the song's laconic similarity to the Stones' "Paint it Black," but he's not, so I just think it to myself.

It's loud. Heavenly, but loud nonetheless. Three guitarists are bound to make them ears ring. Somehow, it's hard to make sense of everything happening on the stage. Gill-stuffed with musicians, slumped, draped and/or crouched over their instruments with varying levels of concentration etched into their faces—it's like some otherwordly ritual we're interrupting. When songs end, band members, seemingly at random, abandon the stage. Some shuffle farther back. New ones clamber atop it. I can't make sense of it. It's like the Manson Family performing community theater. Charlie and the boys on public access dance instruction. Electric Acid Squeeze-it test.

I hear "The Devil May Care (but Mom and Dad Don't)," "No Come Down" and my personal fave, "There's a War Going On," which climaxes into some psyche-o-wobble clatterbang that has me scratching my head and hee-hawing, "Holy diver! Wazzat 'House of the Rising Sun?'" or something equally boneheaded. Loud and long is the name of their game (they played for three hours at Psych Fest), and it's one I'll play with a ritalin perscription burnin' through my system. "Don't kill each other out there. We may have our first Mormon President. Who cares? I live in Germany now." slurrs Newcome. Some peckerhead screams something unintelligible. Another peckerhead tells him to shut up.

Lamb's abandoned his post on the back wall and checked out. He's seen all he needs to. His knees hurt. He actually likes the demo better. He needs sleep because he's got a long day of scuttle-bumming tomorrow. I try to care and actually come astonishingly close.

No fight. No crowd baiting. No bare butt-cheeks and nothing remotely lewd, satanic or rebellious. I look at my watch as the hour hand slides reluctantly into the "A.M." and try and count how many songs the band's played. More than I've got digits and they show no sign of stopping. I roll my eyes back, stuff my hands in my pockets, pretending I'm somewhere god-like. The swirling tumult of Haight-Ashbury-via-Goatshead-Soup helps life me there. I sit cross-legged on my vaporous cloud and look down on every simpleton swirling, bouncing, drooling and grinding to the Jonestown beat. My eyes wobble and for a split second I can see my chubby face smiling back at me, throwing a thumbs up and an engorged Gene Simmons tongue. "Well shit," I softly say to myself. "Maybe Iggy's all wrong. Maybe this is the summer of love."