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- Posted on Jun 7th 2010 10:00AM by Kenneth Partridge
The answer: 15 minutes, the amount of time lead singer, guitarist and mastermind Anton Newcombe, unwilling to end Sunday night's show, moved from amplifier to amplifier, tweaking knobs and effects pedals and teasing out the lingering drone from his band's set-closing number. After 26 songs, an encore seemed unlikely, but still fans watched and waited, hoping Newcombe's bandmates would return to the stage and dredge from the feedback another couple of tunes.
Alas, it was not to be. The other seven members of the San Francisco psych-rock institution remained backstage, and the sound crew eventually put a stop to the screeching.
Although it was annoying and disappointing, Newcombe's encore tease was strangely reassuring. For much of the show, the famously eccentric frontman had played nice, standing on the far left-hand side of the stage and moving dutifully through the material. The trickster finale reaffirmed his commitment to the Brian Jonestown Massacre's longtime credo: "Keep Music Evil."
Of course, even when Newcombe was behaving himself, the music retained some semblance of evil. The group doesn't play black metal, but its shambling, dark-paisley, neo-'60s freak-outs are designed to disorient. Opener 'Super-Sonic' set the tone for the 25 tunes that would follow, folding together humming organ, sitar-like lead guitar and a monotonous chord progression. Newcombe's nasally, pseudo-British Invasion vocals laid low in the mix, seldom transcending the haze.
Since no instrument ever really takes the lead -- 'Wasted,' the next tune, featured a whopping five guitars, among them an acoustic and a 12-string -- it made sense for tambourine player and group mascot Joel Gion to stand at the center microphone and serve as master of ceremonies. The scene-stealing everyman hero of 'Dig!' the 2004 documentary that portrayed Newcombe as a self-destructive genius, Gion is 95 percent sideburns, 5 percent musical skill -- 100 percent charm.
On 'Cabin Fever,' one of several bubblegum-pop departures sung by guitarist Matt Hollywood, Gion simultaneously played maracas and tambourines, making a bid for the title of "multi-instrumentalist."
Gion received some rhythmic assistance on 'Sue,' the night's 20th and best song, as the Webster crowd clapped in time with the slow-burning intro. Over the next eight minutes, the tune built from typical Jonestown Stones-Velvets pastiche to way-gone sonic meltdown. The amplifiers hissed like wet cats, and the groove heated up, caught fire and burned down to smoldering ash.
It would have made a logical finale, which explains why there were still a half-dozen songs to come.