Tuesday, May 22, 2007
Jesus & Mary Chain @ Webster Hall – May 21, 2007
Yesterday seemed like it was going to be a decent day. With the boss perpetually out of the office, I was left to blow through work at my usual hyperspeed pace and then act leisurely throughout the day until it was time to leave for NYC. I recently leased, and by recently I mean two months ago, a new car. It’s a black Zoom Zoom with zooming power. I’ve been protecting it, avoided driving it in order to keep it as new as possible as long as possible. Like when you get a pair of glasses and you keep it in the case for about 4 days. But I’m still babying it as it creeps over the 2000 mile mark.
So what does this have to do with anything? Well, the Mazda hasn’t been through the city pothole, bad driver, awful parking test. My biggest fear was probably a bumper scratch even though the car seems to scratch every time I touched it. I was holding my keys after opening the door and I scratched the door on the way. It sucked.
But the drive was as smooth as a NYC drive to the lower east side could be. No back up on Harlem River drive. I even found a spot a block away from Webster Hall on 10th and 3rd, optimally placed half way between the venue and my favorite late night late night eating spot Chickpea featuring America’s best and freshest falafel.
I met a few people outside the venue around 9 when the opener went on. The Sam Roberts Band, I believe. They were quite atrocious. The lead singer looked like he was from Jet and the music matched up with the look. It seemed to be further proof of my awful opener theory which originated when seeing the band Holy Fuck. If you are a headliner, get the worst band you can to open to make your own show seem that much better.
It was up to Jesus and Mary Chain to take the lead. At five after 10, JAMC opened strong with “Never Understand” and then an excellent rendition of oft-covered “Head On,” most memorably by The Pixies. Then the show meandered as Jim Read (JAMC’s Lead Singer) thanked the audience after every song. A young lady came out to do the backing vocals on a lackluster “Just Like Honey” The apex on the main set’s closer “Reverence.” This is when the beast seemed prepped to be unleashed. Some of that trademark feedback started to seep in as the amps began to approach their upper settings, something that was most likely expected for much of the audience for most of the show. You are playing some of your hit songs, can’t you at least deliver your trademark sound. And then in a flash it was gone. And it was 10:55. They came back out a few minutes later for a weak two song encore, “Upside Down” and “Vegetable Man.” By 11:07, the lights were on and the guitar techs were pulling the amp plugs. Fifty five minutes is unfulfilling even as a festival headliner set.
I saw Ricky Gervais a few nights prior at a warm up show in Tribeca and he gave the crowd a good, chock full of laughs hour of engaged comedy as part of the High Line Festival. At least, the money went to a cause. What kind of cause am I supporting here? The Your Prime is Gone Festival?
I understand the influence of JAMC. It was clearly visible and even more clearly audible. I thought back to when I saw BRMC a few years back, how JAMC was practically the same show with a little more stage action from the younger Motorcycle Clubbers. BRMC didn’t just take influence, they took just about everything. But sometimes it needs to be taken because it seemed that JAMC has truly been passed by.
You can’t overcharge ($45) and then under-deliver at approximately a 55 minute set followed by a one song encore. What the fuck is a shitty two song encore. They probably played between 15-20 songs since their song average in the 2-3 minute mark. Some of the people I went to would have been happy if the band just pulled their pants down and shat on stage. In fact, they might have snacked on it. But I was disappointed and I didn’t go in with much expectations. It reminded me mostly of seeing Bob Dylan three years ago for $60 bucks and wanting to leave after 10 minutes.
To further turn my mood sour, with a cleaned out memory card for this occasion, was useless. The memory card had been left in my laptop. So at least if I don’t enjoy myself, I can have some token photographic memories. The camera’s internal memory took 8 pictures in poor quality. Flashing red and blue lights never came out too well on the old Exilim. But there was one or two salvageable pictures. One at the top and the one here.
JAMC is a standoffish band by nature, at least in this latest incarnation. It exudes from them, their sometimes harshness of sound, which I expected to hear more of. I heard stories of being too loud. The ear drum blowers have went soft. I felt bad for the really fans that waited a decade or so for a show like this and got limited payback for their patience and worship. You won’t see me at another JAMC show anytime soon.
So I was dejected, but it was still early. So I went to Chickpea and had my Falafel. My stomach was happy and satisfied. It is all just a circle of moments: there must disappointment in order to truly achieve satisfaction.
JAMC's Reverence at Coachella -Sounds Great, Can't See Shit:
JAMC's Live on Letterman a few years back: