I am already home, half recovered from the adventure of my life in terms of my relationship with the American band The Brian Jonestown Massacre. Three dates have been made on the peninsula and I have swallowed them intact.
In May of this year I decided that, as things are, I will never see them again and, honestly, they are for me one of the most important bands of my last 20 years. Supported by a network of unrepeatable friends who welcomed me both in Barcelona and Madrid and around friends and colleagues from the world who made the third date in Bilbao something totally memorable, the experience has been a considerable physical, financial and mental exhaustion, but I would not trade it for the world.
Seeing Anton and company, although always byzantine and unpredictable, is something that no longer exists in rock, and that, given the current panorama, will increasingly be something like watching a documentary on the Roman Empire, an act of mental archaeology.
logistics and mental preparation
After fulfilling all the logistical needs of transportation (which if one does with time, turns out to be cheaper than one might think) and tickets, I prepared to let the months go by and continue with my chores so as not to obsess over all the chances of it not happening in the end.
The days before the astral journey arrived, I made sure my friends (special mention to Marc, Raúl and Isaac in Barcelona and Txemi and Luismi in Madrid) knew of my arrival and I disconnected in part from my sad reality of being unemployed with no future prospects and non-existent sentimental life.
I arrived in Barcelona, I visited my friends, I lived the life of the city and its surroundings and I prepared myself chemically and emotionally to face the first of the 3 concerts. It took place in the Apolo room with a fairly large audience, although there was space to enjoy and move. Raúl and his colleagues acted as emotional cover for me in the face of the barrage of songs that came out of the band’s amplifiers. Already in this concert it was seen that the band was a bit at half throttle and that there were many mini-breaks between song and song. At first I reasoned that (which at no time particularly bothered me) it was due to the difficulty of fitting the sound of up to 7 guitars on stage and the exchange of instruments that some of the members fulfilled religiously as part of their duties.
It should be mentioned that the fact that many of the repertoire songs have not yet been published, so the band members who live outside the epicenter of their leader in Berlin have not been able to practice them enough and that most of them were recovering from a severe gastroenteritis caused that all concerts, especially that of Barcelona, to flowed in a slowburn mode. That, in turn, meant that many of the band’s fans were disappointed. Maybe they thought that they were going to see any mainstream robot-like autotuned shit when what they had in front of them is a group with an idiosyncrasy that you have to accept before enjoying it thoroughly. The fortune of being able to see how they improved from date to date and accept the small defects (if they could be called that), made me be able to ignore them and enjoy each fucking second of the spectacle.
It is not something that is easy for me, since I am osmotically permeable to the negative attitude of the people around me, but fortunately in most of my experiences, the people who were with me made everything even greater. The case of Bilbao was especially positive with my sister (who is probably the most important person when developing my taste for rock from my earliest teenage years) and friends (Shaila and Kepa) who proved to be the perfect company (without forgetting Raúl in Barcelona and the duet of Txemi and Luismi in Madrid) for their positive attitude at a time when prejudices and negativity can fuck your life.
The current line-up is formed by the veterans Joel Gion and Ricky Maimi surrounding the über-leader Anton Newcombe and the return of Colin Hegna to bass (to substitute Hallberg Daði Hallbergsson), we have Hákon Aðalsteinsson (guitars since 2018 and member of Singapore Sling) Ryan Van Kriedt (Deadad Skeletons/Ex-Asteroid #4) and URI Rennert (drums, the youngest member). All of them passed the concert walking along the stage while changing instruments, tuning between song and song while the trio of the original formation remained in a central position as making clear the status of each with respect to others.
The repertoire that would be repeated in the subsequent concerts more or less in its entirety was composed of themes of his penultimate (now that he will be releasing a new album shortly), and a couple of songs from his namesake album from 2019 and, it must emphasized, the quite extensive presence of songs not yet published such as Your Mind Is My Cafe and the incredible closer Abandon Ship or obscure singles that had passed me by without noticing like Forgotten Graves. Of course, although perhaps in a more concise way than in the past, they made winks to their hits in the form of Anemone, Pish or Nevertheless.
It is not worth talking about the rest of the performances, especially because the dynamics and the songs were similar. Yet, in order from best to worst, the most amazing was the one in Bilbao because the people (those who enjoyed it at least a lot) went completely crazy and it was a total rush from start to finish with a tremendous final that was repeated again and again. better or worse in the rest of the venues. What is worth saying is how I perceived on a personal level and without outside influence. So, after the Bilbao one, then Barcelona and finally, Madrid.
cosmic vision of a unique voyage
I’ve mentioned it before about more or less the floating feeling (and the word float is important in this context). It felt like I was walking into a Rolling Stones rehearsal in 1967 at the height of their psychedelic era led by the late Brian Jones. I felt as if each note I heard was the sound that was supposed to sound at that moment, while it was impossible to know what was going to be next. It didn’t matter if they were songs that I had never heard or songs that I was completely familiar with, the feeling that the melodies and guitars were coiling around me like a snake about to choke me with aural pleasure was so intense that sometimes it seemed that I was going to implode.
Nothing was left over and nothing was missing. Anton’s almost inaudible comments about Reggaeton present on all posters of the venues, his discussions with the public with exchanges of insults that anyone who has seen the Dig documentary will see as a downtempo version of the acidity of the musician, sounded like rumors from an adjoining room that served as a bridge between song and song (as well as perfect moments to empty the bladder or fill it with more beer). Once I managed to psychologically arm myself with an unattainable attitude to the bores that I met along the way, the experience was a trip that I will never forget.
To close this kind of travelogue, what will remain in my memory the most, in addition to the moments shared with friends around this band, is the closing of the three concerts, especially in Bilbao. Entrenched as we were (thanks to the fraternal combination of my sister and myself) in a side-bar of Kafe Antzokia, we were drinking, commenting on the move, making escapes to the bathroom and little by little entering a kind of emotional and musical high. The last two songs in which even the band’s roadies came out armed with guitars, were an absolute cannon shot in the chest. A constant addition of sounds in which the different melodies of the instruments became a ball of sound orgasm that led to the closure of something that honestly will take me a long time to feel again.
As hagiographic and apologetic as what you read may sound, I cannot write it any other way. Life is too short and tearful to focus on the negative things that happen during my life experiences. This trip to the entrails of a veteran band with more life than a thousand people will ever experience, such as The Brian Jonestown Massacre, has served to understand it at my 46 years, it’s about time, dammit.