If I ever become a bloated millionaire living on some small island off Palawan, with huge gardens, hammocks positioned strategically, chilly bins strewn helter-skelter across the grounds, I would invest heavily in one of those games where faces pop up and you have to beat them down with a rubber hammer. Painted on every single one of the targets would be Joel Gion’s face.
Ever since watching DIG! and seeing his fuckface on the cover drenched in the chemical cockiness of a class A wanker, I have wanted to pluck up the courage to urinate on him in public or throw an anvil at his face while he shakes his tambourine like he just don’t care. There is possibly no “front-man” on earth who deserves as little credit as him. I honestly wonder why Anton wastes airfare, a bunk in a tour-bus, food, beers, drugs and money to drag his sorry ass all over the world. The reason for it is probably because it spawns write-ups like this. The man likes the taste of danger.
So, understandably, it came as no great surprise to walk into a threadbare crowd at Rockefeller just as the god-awful support band ended ( Emma Acs + The Inbreds, a sort of quasi Danish VU/hippie/Kate Bush/Joanna Newsom compilation of utter wankdom with the added insult of a young Katy Perry looking girl sitting centre stage, legs crossed trying to play the sitar????) and see Joel Gion walk on with his hair under wraps and his trademark bell-end sunglasses lost or broken. He looked alcohol chubby, pale and either off his tits or just being a smug talentless idiot as usual.
I guess when your job is shaking a tambourine for 3 hours every night you gotta make up for lack of purpose with extra lashings of attitude. It always puzzles me intensely how major tours work. Invariably the support band chosen to fill the slot is either friends of the band, shagging one of them, girlfriend of a friend of a friend, or something the label wants to push but has nothing to do with the music of the headliner. In this case, the girl was shacked up with Anton’s mate, apparently.
Regardless, it’s these kind of bands that make me break out in a rash. So very Danish. No clue whatsoever about music, been shown the right albums by a handful of artists but don’t really “get them” and strive to fit into that vein without having an ounce of creativity themselves. Just hum along with boring songs wrapped in lethargic chords, a voice to wake the dead from their slumber only to commit suicide again, and the aforementioned Katy Perry Krishna twangings.
I was relieved that I only caught two songs. Even more relieved to see a TV in the corner showing the England/Italy game. Twenty minutes later after the poor guitar tech had made sure all 289 guitars were tuned to perfectly “hazy”, candles were lit to “mysterious”, and drummer was satisfied with the state of his snare (not for long) the band walked out to muted cheers. The scattering’s of people manifested themselves in front of the stage and the room actually looked semi-full. Joel took front stage. Closing his eyes and just willing someone to punch him. Matt Hollywood was back in the band and looking geeky as hell with his “faded” Star Trek shirt and thick rimmed glasses. 20 seconds into the first song Mr Rudolpher Absalom and Daood Rajkovic bolted for the door. Enough was enough. I stayed for about 45 minutes to try give it a go. This was probably the 4th time seeing them.
Once at SXSW they managed to irritate me with how inane they fumbled along pointlessly trying to sound Indian, another gig in Los Angeles I just managed to catch the last part of the show but then the drummer and musicians were locked in an interesting drone that went on and on but never got boring. Today BJM were intent on playing their “rock” songs. It must have been a delight to most fans. 2 hours plus of hits and misses patched together. Anton was well behaved with his greasy tour-hair covering his face down to his mouth, Ricky and Matt and Joel made up the front row with another 4 members behind exchanging between keys/bass/guitars.
I must admit for the first few minutes I thought perhaps this would turn out to be a decent show. They seemed fresh, not too hung-over, relatively jolly despite their West Coast nonchalance, and eager to play until sunrise. The only problem was that all the songs sounded the same. They refused to jam, ventured rarely into any noisier territory, played every single song at the same tempo and very much the same guitar sounds. The only distinguishing factor in being able to identify a few songs was Anton’s vocals. The crowd seemed rather enraptured. Hanging onto every chord, lapping up the sound, chugging Sunday beers.
I found it all a little too one dimensional and admittedly left a couple times to watch football, returned to what sounded like the song that was playing 20 minutes ago, stood at the back, yawned, checked my email, looked up, texted, and pretty much zoned out. Any band who wants to strum along with the same chords and melodies for 2 hours is asking a lot of their audience. The room shed some of its weight at the one hour mark, more as it drove towards an hour and a half… and I can’t comment on the end because I had already escaped and was sitting at the bar in Revolver playing Mazzy Star records and writing a note to leave on the Katy Perry Krishna power girl’s table when she went out for a cigarette. It simply read: THE SITAR IS HOLY. She read it, but I wonder if she got it.
All photos by Morgan Flament http://www.morganflame.com/