The Brian Jonestown Massacre

No support acts. An uninterrupted three-hour-plus set. Tossed tambourines. Bummed-out distortion pedals, misplaced band members and ending on an argument.

It can only be the Brian Jonestown Massacre.

All the way from a shoegazing San Francisco startup in 1990 to a muggy, fuggy Riverside in Newcastle 2016, Anton Newcome and the boys staged an all-out blitzkrieg on their Geordie fans; a war of musical attrition that tore on until neither side could take it anymore.

Striding onto stage dripping with tranquil confidence and clipped charm, demands were made and met. The lights? The tech crew turns them all red right there-and-then or the vibe won’t be just right. The immediate, drunken song requests? “Spotify takes requests dude, hit ‘em up”. The room being too bright? “They have skylights dude; you can’t turn off the sun”


With Newcome stalled finally and only by the power of our parent star itself, a full-on blast through nearly three decades-worth of genre-defining (and genre-beginning, depending on who you believe) garage psychedelic rock began; pit-stops across their impressive discography bled into new material excursions, and full-on, fuzzy, psychedelic jam sessions were bolstered with dank electronic noodlings by Newcome, who brought a synthesizer on tour just to play in between songs and when questioned on the sanity and logistics of such a move declared – rightly – that “I don’t care man, just get someone to carry it”.

psychedelic jam sessions were bolstered with dank electronic noodlings

Far from the near-insane sun-furrowed freaks they were portrayed as in the acclaimed but shrewdly scandalous 2004 rock-doc Dig!, the BJM commanded the stage with all the laidback energy of a deep-rooted band shamelessly confident in their stellar back catalogue, and more than excited to show off some scintillating new gems cut from over 45 songs-worth of hot new work.


Loosening up as the night went on, Newcombe barrelled through hilarious detours into phonecalls to chief Dandy Warhol Courtney Taylor-Taylor, pig-molesting Prime Ministers, old age, needing glasses and wishing the Stone Roses would just let him write their songs for fifteen goddamn minutes.

a buzzy, blistering aural offensive

As the band got heavier, the groove got fuzzier and the heckler of the night got told to “quit puking up demands”, the cathartic middle high descended into a queasy end-of-the-party feeling; Anton convinced the promoters will let them stay on past three hours, tambourinist Joel Gion arguing the toss and the rest of the band more than ready to go home.

With the crowd baying for more – bleeding ears and full bladders be damned – the guys launched into one last ten-minute final push; a buzzy, blisteringly-awesome aural offensive before downed guitars, a curt “cheers big ears” from Anton and a quick exit as the band evaporated off stage into a still-young Newcastle night.

Leigh Venus at Riverside, 10 June 2016

Shortened version published in Narc Magazine

Photos: Isaac Newcombe at Powerstation, Aukland NZ