Anton Newcombe: Brian Jonestown Massacre in Vancouver

Last night Dave and I went to go see Brian Jonestown Massacre at the Commodore. We’re both big fans of Anton’s music and so we were pretty excited at seeing him live for the first time. It took a while for the band to play their set and as time went on the crowd pressed closer and closer around us.

We were close to the stage and had to fight back a few aggressive people who I guess thought they could muscle their way in. Two of them pushed their way through at separate times saying, “Hey, man you mind if I get in there? I want to take some pictures. This is probably the last time I’m going to see Anton live again. I’ll move out quick.” “Yeah, sure go right ahead.” “Hey, Anton’s not in a good mood tonight.” he said with a half smile. “I don’t want to be in throwing range. I was backstage and he didn’t recognize me but I got him to take his medicine. You know his medicine, heh? We’re friends.” Yeah, friends. Right. He said that with the smugness of someone who sees himself close to the flame but is mainly there to witness the spectacle of public self-destruction.

So it was in anticipation that we waited for the band to take the stage. I guess anything can happen with Anton.

But lucky for us they did take the stage. And lucky for us they did play. Was it a completely pleasant experience? No. Anton, it turns out wasn’t in a good state of mind, so he terrorized his band and was nasty and a bit hostile to the audience but he was prepared to play his heart out because that’s his zone. And he did just that until some fucking asshole threw a broken beer bottle at him. That person was there for the spectacle and not for Anton’s music.

Anton’s first album is called Thank God For Mental Illness. Maybe because his dad killed himself or maybe because Anton himself suffers from mental illness. I’m not sure. But it was with a real mixture of sadness and joy that I watched him. He’s a trainwreck of a person with an amazing amount of talent. His heart and soul go into his music and no matter what you say, it’s still amazing to witness that kind of raw talent. I hope Anton’s life doesn’t get so hard that he doesn’t stick around to continue creating great music.

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8 Comments

Filed under Random Musing

8 responses to “Anton Newcombe: Brian Jonestown Massacre in Vancouver

  1. Bruno

    I was there and it was the best show I saw in a long time. What was especially cool was that Anton was the DJing between the warmup band and the BJM set. He was spinning some great tunes. particularly this 15 minute mix which took dialogue from some 40’s British movie with some scary beat in the background that continued to get more and more intense until BJM started. I was with my oldest friend who is certifiably insane. He sounds just like the guy you described who was talking about the “medicine” Could you describe his appearance for me to confirm my suspicions? He stood out in the crowd, to say the least.

  2. Cool. Dave and I were just saying that next time Anton comes to town we’re going. He is such a great musician. The guy I was describing was about 5 foot 7, he had grey hair and he was shirtless. Is that the same guy?

  3. rap

    hello music lover,
    the bottle incident was vexing. i didn’t see any bottle go flying; just the madman bend down and smash a bottle (probably his own) and threaten the crowd…total lunatic…total disregard for human safety. i am having fantasies of kicking the shit out of him now. i was 2 metres from him and i thought he was going to throw the jagged bottle at us; even the security guy was frightened. this was the strangest concert i have ever seen; mixed feelings; blended, chopped and liquified feelings….rap

  4. Hmmmn. That’s interesting. When I think about it I don’t think I truthfully saw the bottle coming from the audience, I assumed it did. Anton is crazy. There’s no question about it. It doesn’t make me want to kill him but it makes me feel sad. He seemed pathetic in a weird way. I agree though. There was a really weird vibe at the concert.

  5. Bruno

    Yeah, that’s my friend – the only one there without a shirt on besides Anton. He also had a kerchief tied around his arm tourniquet style. He is in the middle of a serious mental breakdown. I came out to visit him from New York ‘cuz he was in Vancouver for a three month job but got fired after 37 days. He’s an interesting guy – He’s got a Phd in Chemistry, from New York but married a Brasilian and lives in Brasil. But he is really fucked up from alcohol and drugs. Vancouver is the wrong place to be if you like drugs and your wife is not around to keep you in control. He went to that show pretending to know Anton. He gave the doorman a business card to give to Anton. On the back he wrote, “Hows that habit, bro? Hang in there and play your heart out.” In defense of Anton, my friend did not give him is “medicine” and never met him. He went to talk to Anton when he was dj-ing and Anton told the security guy to “get him the fuck away from me” and gave my friend the finger. My friend’s sister is going out to Vancouver right now to retrieve him and bring him to a rehab facility. I saw Anton walk into the Commodore by himself thru the front door while I was sitting at the Crepe Bar waiting for my friend who was 1.5 hours late. He looked like a million bucks.

  6. Wow. That’s quite a story. But that definitely was your friend. I hope your friend gets the help he needs so he can move on and have a healthy, happy life. Sounds like a crazy night for more than just one person. Thanks for stopping by Bruno.

  7. guittard

    I’ve been following Anton since before Dig!. It makes me sick at all the people who taunt him and do stupid stuff like throw bottles. Why don’t they just go their for the music? I remember some show Anton talked about how he wouldn’t go throw bottles at someone while they were working their job at Walgreens. His job is music.

  8. I’d love to read more about this

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