Fresh out of Austin Psych Fest and on tour with The Blue Angel Lounge, the infamous Brian Jonestown Massacre graced our Portland ears last Friday. The Wonder Ballroom was packed, full of dark-clothed bodies in eager anticipation of aural annihilation. The Massacre’s dynamic has gone through ups and downs over the years, mostly due to front man Anton Newcombe’s curious onstage meltdowns and inter-member disagreements made public in Ondi Timoner’s 2004 documentary, Dig! Yet, it appears Newcombe has decided to chill out and go with the flow, just in time for a new album, Don’t Say A Thing, and an extensive international tour.
As if they were sailing peacefully on a Viking ship on a stormy night, The Blue Angel Lounge opened with a stark grace. The German quintet met Anton at their first live show in Berlin, and he helped them put together their record, “Narcotica,” so it’s no wonder he wanted to tour with them in the West. Their sound is a heavy, hazy, new-wave with reverb that completely pounds through the room, wall-to-wall. They truly create a lounge of sound. Check out their hypnotizing performance below.
After the instrument shift, the current members of Brian Jonestown Massacre mingled up to the stage, ready to infect the crowed with their collective sound. Guitarist Matt Hollywood took to the mic to let the audience know that their New York DJ friend, Jon Toubin, who was recently ran over by a cab at the Jupiter Hotel was recovering and that there were no hard feelings towards Portland. What a relief! On that note, the Massacre began and audience drew closer.
The band warmed up quickly and starting building with “Stairway to the Best Party.” Anton modestly sat on a wooden stool, strumming and singing into the microphone. Armed with sunglasses and a tambourine, Joel Gion assessed the cathedral-like ceilings and held the center. BJM maintained their balanced groove through older favorites and even let the audience taste a new track off Don’t Say A Thing. Then Joel sang “There’s A War Going On” to mix things up a bit. Peep this 52 minute video of Brian Jonestown Massacre’s positively proper performance, which can be found on Anton’s U-Stream channel, “Dead TV.”