The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion at Exit/In, 4/29/2011



If downing a couple PBRs at the Gold Rush with a cavalcade of local scenester luminaries is reason enough to miss opening act Tiger! Tiger! at Exit/In Friday night, then we’d say we’re covered. Otherwise, The Spin apologizes for partying. You'd think, like, us pros who go to these damn things almost every goddamn day would have “rock o’clock” permanently programmed into our biological ticker. Well, we don't.

We stepped into Exit/In and were instantaneously greeted by a group with the most appropriate name in the history of rock music. Veteran axe man Jon Spencer and his Blues Explosion have this way of destroying every concept you might have about what live music can be. Gnarly fuzztones dropped and bent into alien, dirgy commotions, only to come bubbling back up into a psychedelic, space-age, bluesy freak-out, eliciting a collective “Hoooooly shit!” from the medium-sized mob of fans going collectively out of their gourd.

Even if — for whatever reason — you were discouraged as a child every time you expressed a liking for awesome songs, the sonics in the room alone were enough to tickle your cochlea till it peed itself. JSBX’s two guitars and drum set slapped bass tones down like a slab of steak, through which Spencer sliced, yielding his axe like a switchblade knife. The early-30s-centric crowd had clearly come from all over and knew every scream, pause and shout, as they chimed in on cue each and every time the inimitable frontman called them to action. Hell, considering his roots in the NYC garage-slop band Pussy Galore, this guy’s been playing the blues since before he knew how. Plus, you know you’re witnessing a truly authentic psychedelic freak-out when the preacher whips his shtick out to the choir, and they are still, indeed, freaking the hell out.

From blues explosion to blues flare-up, we crossed the Rock Block to catch the end of Denney and the Jets' set at The End. Since we last saw them, D and the Js have taken a stroll to the crossroads to barter some spiritual currency in exchange for 12-bar bliss. No doubt they were damn tight, but, well, having seen what we'd just seen, Denney would have had to strangle the neck of that guitar like a chicken to keep us on the blues high from which weren’t quite ready to come down.

From there we got our first look at the newly re-formed Pink Spiders. They’d just spent the last two weeks breaking in local attention-whoring, button-pushing, original pranksta Brandon Jazz as their new bassist. While we may have had our doubts after seeing the underwhelming four-string prowess he showed us during his brief stint as a POWERBRRRD, his flashy threads, permanently-affixed shades and tousled locks proved he at least looked like a reasonable Jon Decious facsimile. And wouldn’t you know, he was nailing those licks on time to boot.

Unfortunately, the Spiders don’t quite pull in a crowd like they used to. So what we got was a motley crew choir running a few dozen deep who showed up just to sing along to classics like “Soft Smoke," “Little Razorblade” and even spanking new additions like “Cherry Chapstick.” It’s a long way back to the top if you wanna rock 'n' roll, and the Spiders definitely want to do that. But whether they’re exactly aiming for the top shouldn’t seem to matter when you’re having that good of a time.

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