Live Review: The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Martyr Privates

16 November 2015 | 11:49 am | Tom Hersey

"Watching them on stage, it seems that this band could really go anywhere with their music and it would come off sounding excellent."

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As Brisbane’s humidity thankfully relents, switching from unbearable to just extremely unpleasant, a horde of psych-rock fans stream into The Triffid’s main room while Martyr Privates kick off tonight’s entertainment. As all the bodies in the room start to prickle with sweat, the garagey trio offer up a tasty mix of pop, shoegaze and rock that sounds as laidback as it does fuzzed-out, and is likely to win them some new fans from tonight’s crowd.

For a band whose image is almost entirely centred on frontman Anton Newcombe, it’s funny watching The Brian Jonestown Massacre walk onto The Triffid’s stage tonight. Joel Gion, a guy with the tightest mutton chops you've seen this side of Easy Rider and two tambourines, is centrestage while Newcombe is over in a corner. From even their stage layout, BJM seem like they’re striving for weirdness. In this regard, their set does not disappoint.

With a catalogue as long as a Director's Cut version of any of the Lord Of The Rings movies, The Brian Jonestown Massacre can really go anywhere with tonight's performance. And the crowd is waiting for something crazy. So when the dudes demonstrate that they fully understand the merits of sticking to a crowd-pleasing set and play plenty of material from the double-disc singles compilation the band released in 2011, it almost feels like the most unexpected thing they could do. But as much as the audience is expecting some kind of freak-out worthy of Dig!, the Brian Jonestown Massacre manage to stick to the script, and nobody seems to be complaining about that.

Sure, there are pockets of lunatics in the crowd dancing like they're in some '60s happening where the electric Kool-Aid acid does, or perhaps does not, pass the test. But there are also a lot of people using the breaks between the songs to talk with their friends about what the next round of mid-strength beer is going to be. For the most part, you get the sense that the band you’re witnessing is probably as deeply eccentric as their reputation, but tonight they’re channelling all of that weirdness into the music. Watching them on stage, it seems that this band could really go anywhere with their music and it would come off sounding excellent. As the band hits song after song after song, the inconsistencies of the large stylistic shifts to which they have grown prone in their latter day career melt away. The dreamy twangs of the three guitars buff and polish the quirks of the band’s prolific career into an ethereal haze, a haze that is both weird and wonderful.

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