Instead, I checked it out on the recommendation of my friends Eron and Corey, both of whom joined me for the BJM concert tonight at Turner Hall. Eron and Corey knew I'm a huge fan of The Dandy Warhols, the other band in the documentary.
It turns out that BJM is the real rock band between the two, and I've anxiously awaited the opportunity to see them live.
You pretty much need to see "Dig!" before you begin to understand the band, founded by the enigmatic, talented and slightly insane Anton Newcombe.
Newcombe and a rotating lineup of a good two dozen members take the mantra of "sex, drugs and rock and roll" very seriously, having cranked out nine albums, four EPs and 15 singles in their two decade history. I don't claim to know all, of even most, of their songs, but their greatest hits album, "Tepid Peppermint Wonderland: A Retrospective" is a more than adequate primer.
Fortunately I knew enough Friday, and BJM quite literally put on one of the best shows I've ever seen. With eight musicians on stage, including tambourine player Joel Gion and the surprise addition of original guitarist Matt Hollywood, the band pounded out song after song in an astounding three-hour set.
The Brian Jonestown Massacre really went through volumes of its discography Friday, and I'm not exaggerating to say that every song sounded so very tight. A long, drawn-out version of "If Love Is The Drug" went on forever, but in a really great way.
If Newcombe has mellowed after all these years, he barely showed it. Gliding between chatty, angry and intense, he micromanaged the band, especially the super-talented drummer Dan Allaire, who he stopped on occasion to berate for not keeping up with his timing. But otherwise, the group got along, and fireworks were largely avoided (somewhat to our chagrin).
There's almost too much to comment on from this transcendent, packed show. From Gion's larger than life muttonchops, swigging champagne throughout, to the extended solos and jams, this show felt like a musical moment in time that might just last forever.
The opening band was a Minneapolis group called Flavor Crystals, and the guitar-heavy act was quite good, reminiscent of early The Verve. After their set, I talked a bit to lead singer Josh Richardson, who was watching Newcombe just as wide-eyed as we were.
Richardson said he attributed BJM's superb performance to the fact that Newcombe is again sober, and after touring with them, they're really nothing like what viewers saw in "Dig!" He said the movie misrepresented the band, piecing together lots of bad incidents over the years, and that the group is comprised of "perfect gentlemen."
I'm not sure I entirely buy that, since Newcombe looked like he was ready to kill someone when he launched into a some self-described "Icelandic disco."
But for the incessant amp tweaking and on-stage machinations, I had to grin when Newcombe told us he's currently working on five albums right now. We all cheered when he said, "We've got a bunch of songs we're just gonna play till the make us stop."
Before tonight, I would've said that I'm still slightly partial to The Dandy Warhols over Brian Jonestown Massacre. Now I know it's no contest.
Searching my mental archives, I can only think of one other show that bested tonight's: Radiohead in Chicago's Grant Park several years ago. And frankly, this was close.
After the show, we talked to the keyboard player, Rob Campanella, who thanked us for coming and apologized if the band seemed a little tired (Newcombe was chugging Red Bells all night).
If that's what BJM sounds like when sleepy, I can't imagine what they're like wide awake.
I'm not entirely sure if saying this concert was a close second to Radiohead is saying much at all considering that it sounds like these are the only 2 concerts you've ever attended. I'm under the impression you like the Dandy Warhols because you can personally glean your forename from them and if you believe you just witnessed a "clinic" of a rock show with the BJM then you need to visit a "clinic" to see if your b*lls have officially dropped.
great band if the only Stones album you like is Her Satanic Majesties Request.
the singer is such an overblown a-hole though, they'll never see a penny of my money.
I thought it was a very good show, a wall of sound from a very tight band. I talked to several people after the show that thought it was a terrible waste of time. Perhaps they just came for some of Anton's antics and not for the music?
Good show, bloody good.
3 comments about this article.
Post your comment/review now
Disclaimer: Please note that Facebook comments are posted through Facebook and cannot be approved, edited or declined by OnMilwaukee.com. The opinions expressed in Facebook comments do not necessarily reflect those of OnMilwaukee.com or its staff.
Recent Articles & Blogs by Andy Tarnoff
Published May 13, 2015
Yesterday, Packers fans were delighted to watch Aaron Rodgers dominate on "Celebrity Jeopardy." Indeed, it feels nice to have a smart guy calling signals under center (in your face, Jay Cutler). But Wisconsin sports have been full of intelligent players through the years. Here are six.
Published April 30, 2015
Just a few years ago, all Katie Daly knew about candles is that they smelled nice, and she liked having them around the house. Her boyfriend, Cody Weiss, didn't disagree. But Daly, always a self-admitted "type-A antsy person" found herself bored and browsing Pinterest one day, when she saw a how-to guide to making soy candles in Mason jars. The corporate trainer melted some wax on the stove, adding some lavender oil - and found herself surprised when the candle actually burned.
Published April 6, 2015
Something weird happened to me around the beginning August last year: I started wanting the Brewers season to be over.
Published April 3, 2015
Here are seven recent Brewers pitchers that I would love to get back. Even if these weren't necessarily the best players, they each brought something special to the crew.
Published April 2, 2015
In a time when Zappos and Amazon and brick-and-mortar sporting good chains have cemented their spot as go-to places for running shoes and apparel, you might not think that starting a local running store would be a sound business idea. Don't tell that to Jessica and Trae Hoepner, the owners of Performance Running Outfitters, a business that started with one humble store and expanded to three, with a fourth in the works.
Published March 19, 2015
My 18th annual Brewers Spring Training trip is now complete, and I'm back in chilly Milwaukee, which actually feels a little better after a few days under the beating hot sun of the desert. This trip was a good one. A really good one. New experiences, old friends and lots and lots of baseball. But you probably know about all that if you read my blog entries this week.
Published March 18, 2015
When I left off yesterday, I was feeling tan, rested and ready for baseball, and we made the 30-minute drive from Talking Stick Resort to Peoria Stadium a little before noon. Brewers fans were out in force for the game against the Padres. St. Patty's Day revelry was in full effect.
Published March 17, 2015
I've said this before, but sometimes Spring Training feels a lot like the movie "Groundhog Day." Events, games and trips tend to run together, because with only a few variations, you're basically doing the same thing every day (and of course, that's a very good thing). But yesterday, we did something that we've only done one other time in 18 years: we didn't go to a Brewers game.
Published March 16, 2015
When you've been awake for 24 consecutive hours, due to an early flight, a time change and the excitement of an 18th consecutive Spring Training trip to Arizona, it's understandable to make a few bad decisions. Fortunately, the only one I regret is that humungous carne asada burrito from Filiberto's at 2 a.m. Mountain Standard Time, before collapsing into a few hours of sleep at the Talking Stick Resort here in Scottsdale.
Published March 10, 2015
Every year - since 1998 - I've made the trip to Arizona to watch the Brewers get ready for a long, long season of baseball. It's my favorite work/fun trip (edging out even Las Vegas) that I get to take, but with all the fun and sun in the desert, it's surprisingly easy to forget to pay attention to the baseball on the field.