Jon Spencer Blues Explosion
June 16, 2013
It was definitely a crowd of serious fans that filled up the Crescent Ballroom last night to see NYC's Jon Spencer Blues Explosion lay down their well-oiled rock 'n' roll fury. Before the band took the stage, the collective conversation was abuzz with "I saw 'em when and then" stories, which seemed, refreshingly, to come more from an excited perspective than a cooler-than-thou one. When the band came out and positioned themselves in front of the Crescent stage's lush red curtain, it was Blues Explosion business as usual.
Kicking it off with "2Kindsa Love" from the mid-'90s release Now I Got Worry, it was clear that the next 90 minutes plus were gonna be loud and proud.
Read More: Jon Spencer on the return of the Blues Explosion: "We cherish the work a lot more."
They tore into "Black Thoughts" from their latest release -- their first full-length in eight years -- Meat and Bone. In the midst of that song's gloriously catchy swagger, Spencer exclaims, "That is the worst vacation that I've ever been on," and you can't help but wonder if he's referring to the long break between recordings, highlighting how goddamn good it feels to be on the delivering end of their fueled-up rock.
From there, it only got more ferocious. "Bag of Bones," another gem from Meat and Bone offered all the noisy twang you could hope for from a Blues Explosion tune and gave way for Spencer to get a little more sermon-y style in his addressing the crowd.
Well past a few soulful and sassy reminders that "Ladies and Gentlemen, it's the Blues Explosion," he did a little tent-revival-style sermon about the truth and how it is his job to tell it like it is. A fine segue into the undeniable ass-shaker "Sweet 'n' Sour" from 2002's Plastic Fang.
The rest of the lengthy set was a milkshake of perfectly chaotic noise and swagger as the JSBX timeline was represented with other Meat and Bone tracks like "Danger" and some nice dives into the timeline, bringing out skin peelers like the good 'n' nasty "Son of Sam."
Though Spencer is an easy focal point, the trio offers team chemistry throughout. Judah Bauer's more collected stance only allows his passion to push harder through his guitar mastery, while Russell Simins is a ridiculous flurry of sweat and sticks. It's the collective energy that truly resonates.
The band had covers covered, too. The Beastie Boys' "She's On It" rocked the house. Judah sang "Fuck Shit Up," a Dub Narcotic Sound System song they included on Now I Got Worry, the audience was excited to get in on the action -- fucking shit up is a pretty universal desire.
Russell offered vocal destruction on a cover of the Dead Boys' "What Love Is." Already one of the most perfectly snotty, pissy songs ever, the Blues Explosion drummer channeled Stiv Bators and then some. They might have had some time off but the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion still gots it, as they say. Sex, stamina, swagger that should still have ears ringing through the week.
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Local band Freaks of Nature were the only opener last night. The four-piece garage band, all veterans of the Phoenix music scene, channeled all that is good and dirty about 1960s garage rock and punk, mixing it with their own exceptional music skills to present a blistering set. These boys ripped it up, getting the crowd stomping, cheering and wanting more, more, more of their driving riffs and unforgettable hooks. They were the perfect choice for kicking off a fiery night of rock 'n' roll.