Seeing Brian Jonestown Massacre at Webster Hall last night, I was reminded of why rock star attitude came about in the first place. Quite frankly, assholes are entertaining.
Anton Newcombe, the frontman of BJM is notorious for causing all sorts of drama while onstage. He harasses his bandmates, yells at the soundmen, makes fun of audience members, and goes on five minute tirades about how the goverment and all of those who support it are human vomit. It's real classy stuff, and last night was no different. The band played perhaps the longest set I had ever seen a band play, about two hours, but about half that time was spent ranting, tuning, (see kids? This is why you shouldn't smoke pot) and bashing the Administration and all of those who support it. Anton has a particular soft spot for Scandinavian countries, not surprisingly, and made sure to praise Norway's statistics for teeth repair, clearly setting the standard for an effective government. (Wow, I hope my sarcasm is being picked up here). Anton would occasionally stop in midsong and yell at his lead guitarist, 'The note I'm playing is in the f*cking scale. The note your playing is not in the f*cking scale'. For the sake of his bandmembers, you can only hope that this is all an act. I'm not sure why anyone would put up with that crap night after night.
When Anton actually shut his mouth, the band sounded amazing. BJM has a knack for full, layered sounds paired with catchy melodies.
I'm not sure why they never really made it big here in the states, but I have a hunch after seeing this show. There is a fine line between entertainment, and just plain obnoxious behavior. I've heard that Ryan Adams has undergone a transformation from nice alt country boy into obnoxious indie guitarist, and apparently he's selling more tickets than ever. So what say you? Given that the music is equal, is it better to be nice and boring with their banter, or is an artist better off being obnoxious and entertaining? Hmmm....