ASTEROID NO. 4 opening for the BRIAN JONESTOWN MASSACRE and the DEADLY SNAKES at the Tequila Lounge, February 22. Tickets: $10. Attendance: 460. Rating: NNN
shave off the three-day stubble and the band griping about the monitor mix onstage at the Tequila Lounge could've been Philadelphia's Asteroid No. 4. But when they broke into a straight-up country-rock ramble, I figured I had it all wrong. This couldn't possibly be the same bunch of psych-heads silly with pedals of the digital delay and fuzz variety now fiddling with the twangy steel kind -- or could it?
When the singer dude leaned forward and announced, "That was from our new album, King Richard's Collectibles" I nearly went horizontal. This was indeed Asteroid No. 4, but they've undergone a radical transformation.
The new album is admittedly a sharp turn from the lysergic lifts of 1998's Introducing debut, toward a more cultivated 60s pop pilfering (leaning in the Village Green-era Kinks direction), but I'd just assumed Lilys mastermind Kurt Heasley, who co-produced the sessions, was to blame.
As it happens, the album is just the jump-off point for a detour deep into Buffalo Springfield and Flying Burrito Brothers country. Only vocalist/guitarist Scott Vitt seems to have absorbed so much of the Monkees shtick growing up that he can't help but sound like Mike Nesmith whether he's trying for Bob Dylan or Gram Parsons.
Having backing singer Rachel Gagnon shimmying around like Davy Jones with a tambourine just completes the picture. Yet is the world really waiting for a new Monkees?
Judging by the wild whoops hollered at Anton Newcombe as he carried his guitars onstage between sets, there was much more excitement about hearing the Brian Jonestown Massacre. Sadly, this wasn't their night.
The road-worn Newcombe began by hoarsely growling, "I blew out my voice last night, so if anyone wants a refund you can get one-third of your money back at the door... but you have to go now." Nobody moved a hair, knowing that even a sickly Newcombe is capable of stupidly entertaining acts of pointless brutality directed at his sidemen.
With maraca-man Joel "Cornelius" Gion currently MIA along with whipping boys Matt Hollwood and Dean Taylor, hopes for an all-out brawl were greatly diminished.
Our boy Anton still had some fight in him, chiefly directed at "some total fucking poodleheads with trust funds." It's understandable that Newcombe would be pissed at the Strokes' shocking success -- they're enjoying all the critical and popular acclaim he's always wanted by playing a variation of the early Brian Jonestown sound.
The point was driven home with a stomping rip through Swallow Tail, a catchy swinger that Newcombe first put on his home four-track 10 years ago. Although the Massacre had their chance with TVT and they blew it.
Anyone left wondering why the Deadly Snakes took the headlining slot found out just moments into their first frat bash-o-rama. These knuckleheads came to play, and they hauled ass. Their punchy jams could do with some rearranging to take full advantage of the available horn power, but the Snakes still slapped out a mighty squawk.
If they had a frontman, they'd be dangerous.