Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Live 4/2/03

I had never heard anything by the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion before this show, so based solely on reputation, I purchased a ticket. I didn't really know what to expect, but being a relatively well-known national act, I decided I might as well see what the Blues Explosion had to offer. Besides, what else is there to do on a Wednesday night.

The opening band, Big Lazy, was quite a surprise. They were an instrumental surf/experimental outfit, and they were actually very good. Sounded kind of like the Pixies, but added some cool percussion stuff thanks to an excellent drummer. A few songs had a kind of cool tropical groove, while others just rocked. I wouldn't have minded if they stayed on a little longer, but being the opening band, they only had about half an hour to do their thing. On the off chance that they come to your town, I'd recommend seeing them.

Anyway, back to the JSBX. Since I didn't know anything about the band, I was unaware that there was no bassist. So the three members took the stage - Jon Spencer, a burly drummer, and the lead guitarist. Earlier that day I had walked in during soundcheck and got a look at the drummer and lead guitarist, which was pretty cool. But anyway, the band took the stage and started rocking. I quickly took note that Spencer's guitar was the answer to the lack of bassist; it was incredibly low end, thick and beefy. The drummer, sporting a minimal kit, had some pretty good grooves going on during different parts of the show and was good on the whole. The lead guitarist didn't really have any solos or anything, but you could tell he was doing his share of the work.

The funny thing about this band is the name. The JSBX has almost nothing to do with conventional blues music. I had heard about that before so knew not to expect Muddy Waters or something. The sound is actually somewhat hard to describe. I'd just have to say rock n' roll, plain and simple. Some guy next to me said something about the Rolling Stones and the Sex Pistols. I'd have to agree to a certain extent on both. The downside to the more simplistic rock approach was that is started to sound the same after a while.

The band played about 45 minutes to an hour, took a break, then played maybe a 20 minute encore. It seemed a little on the short side, but maybe it was for the best. Much longer and it would've been overkill. All in all a good rock band with a pretty good live show. I'd listen to some of their stuff before going to a show though, because they aren't for everyone.


Starr Hill Music Hall

Charlottesville, VA


Written by: Tosh

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