W iggy psychedelic squad the Brian Jonestown Massacre have a good friend in club promoter Dan Burke. Booking them both at his old dump, Club Shanghai, and at his current residence, the El Mocambo, Burke has been both faithful and helpful to the, um, precarious and frequently naked Cali crew.
So Burke could be forgiven last Tuesday for strenuously defending them even though they sucked. Especially since he had secured them, rather inexplicably, for a two-night stand. Whatever. Blame said suckage on perfectionist singer/songwriter Anton Newcombe.
Opening with Salvo, the excellent flower-power anthem, the crew got off to a promising start, especially since heavily 'burned, ape-boy percussionist Joel Gion -- the undefeated champ of ennui -- is back in the band.
Watching Gion dramatically roll his eyes as if in mock disgust that his immigration papers read "professional tambourine player" is pretty entertaining, certainly more so than anything his limp wrist coaxes from his instrument.
But just as things started to gel, Newcombe began to fiddle with his amp. Then with his pedals. Then with his tuning. Really, when you've got multiple guitarists in your band, you can slide a little, especially when your music is of the jangly 60s-groove variety.
The group would charge through one song, then have to stop cold while Newcombe fidgeted. All night long. Poor Gion. Apparently accustomed to this scenario, he wisely pulled up a chair lest he drift into a narcoleptic slumber and injure himself falling to the stage floor.
Gaps wide enough for opening bands to fill don't exactly engender an urge to rock, no matter how righteous your Rickenbackers. Add to the mix a bunch of unfamiliar songs and you've got one mighty disinterested audience on your hands.
Maybe their second show saw improvement, but it's unlikely anyone who'd paid the freight Tuesday would risk forking out for seconds.
BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE, at the El Mocambo, October 24. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 150. Rating: NN