Drugs Music: The Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Wiltern
“Drugs Music” is the umbrella term for the sounds created by The Brian Jonestown Massacre in Anton Newcombe’s own words. He didn’t specify whether this meant the music was the drug or that the music was meant to be enjoyed on drugs, but both are true. Seeing the Brian Jonestown Massacre live is like barreling down a tunnel of infinite and psychedelic love with kaleidoscope colors changing like LSD-friendly chameleons as flower petals shower you in hippie kisses. They’ve harnessed some kind of psych rock induced hypnosis that transports you back in time (or rather through dimensions) to a place sorta like the 60’s where there’s boundless amounts of free love and exquisite weed, friendly vagabonds and outlaws roam about and warmly say hello to everyone they encounter, but it’s a 60’s without all the bloated pontification, the vibe here is much more real. Just go with the flow, that’s the mantra of the music.
This show made me feel loose and always connected to that Godly flow instead of being caught in a mental web by useless thoughts that restrict one’s actions and worldview. Someone who just lets the flow dictate their actions all the time without the weight of social expectation. These types of people might not shower, they might even accept any drug offered t0 them on a smooth stroll through a park. Anton Newcombe probably isn’t exactly one of those people, but he is connected to that Godly flow. He’s followed it his whole career, traveling from Southern California to San Francisco to start a band then to Berlin to make music with his merry band of pranksters.
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Mercury Rev opened up the show with a flurry of twinkling soundscapes that mimicked the feeling of staring up a night sky filled with more stars than you’ve ever seen. I felt the epicness of Roger Waters Pink Floyd mingling with the wonderment of Syd Barret Pink Floyd to give Mercury Rev’s brand of psychedelia the feel of tucking you into bed for a night of wild, vibrant dreaming.
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The Brian Jonestown Massacre’s m.o. is to make you feel free but chill. They give you these sort of street-sage maladies with a vagabond twist that make you feel like a rough and tumble character, fearless enough to fist fight or take an epic dose, but with a soft, vulnerable heart. Personally, most of the music I enjoy live on a regular basis is much more insane on the surface. Punk bands with snarling singers and audiences with no care for their bodies. This show was insane in its own way though. The artists might not have been complete freaks but I knew while I was in this space, I was experiencing something against the grain and undesirable to the powers that be. Love, in its purest, most free form, is the last thing the masters of the universe want bursting out of every human heart. In this sense, Anton Newcombe is a soul rebel, armed with a weapon as old as dirt, to expand minds and travel in time, leaving a little bit of love wherever The Brian Jonestown Massacre spreads their gospel.
Words by: Robert Shepyer
Photos by: Erika Reinsel