Dimmer with Brian Jonestown Massacre | Neumo’s | 9 September 2007
Shayne Carter, the former front man of New Zealand’s Straightjacket Fits has not been taking it easy since the demise of his band way back in 1993. Dimmer, the band he started after nearly a decade of musical dormancy, first started out as a trip hop (think Portishead) influenced group. Dimmer have released three albums down under, which have garnered some success in their native New Zealand, but hasn’t even rated a proper US release. The latest album, There My Dear has all but abandoned the trip hop of the first two records and returned to a more conventional Straightjacket Fits sound. They are currently over in the states opening for the Brian Jonestown Massacre’s west coast tour. I’m not what you would call a fan of BJM, but the combination of Dimmer and BJM was enough to get me out the house last Sunday night.
It seemed like there were a small number of Kiwi’s and Straightjacket Fits fans early to the show to catch Dimmer. Carter was joined by an additional guitarist as well as bass and drums (no keyboards or electronics). They played mostly songs from There My Dear, with maybe one or two songs from I Believe You are a Star and You’ve Got to Feel the Music. Carter had a platter of effects pedals for his guitar and used an ebow on a number of songs. More than a few times during the set I was looking around for someone playing a keyboard or laptop, but it was all Carter and the band. Carter’s effects laden playing reminded me a bit of Julian Swales of Kitchens of Distinction, making his guitar sound otherworldly. It was a good set, though I could have gone for them doing a few more of their poppy songs instead of the longer instrumental stuff. That’s just my preference though, they sounded great and the longer songs went more towards the atmospheric feel they were going for.
The place totally filled up for Brian Jonestown Massacre, and it filled up with a lot of annoying people. I’m guessing that half the audience there, came to see some kind of Anton fiasco, people were throwing things onto the stage, and beer was sprayed at the band and audience in lame attempts to get Anton going. They nearly got it too, Anton appeared to be in a bad mood and the set suffered because of it. BJM can really create a wall of sound with their three guitar onslaught, but Newcombe detracts from any vibe the band creates. The set started off on shaky ground when the band shuffled on stage and fiddled with their instruments while Anton was in the back at the sound board either berating the sound guy, dj’ing, or just trying to be annoying by delaying the start of the show. The band just kind of stood around on stage and rolled their eyes waiting for Anton. Once he finally got to the stage, shirtless and looking a bit haggard, they sounded great…and very loud. Most of the songs turned into long 10 minute jams with the band just playing the same riff throughout…it sounded good but got a bit redundant. Newcombe really was in Dig! form, finding someone in the audience to berate, calling the poor guy a cupie doll something or other, and threatening to have “his guys” beat him up. Newcombe and Brian Jonestown Massacre have some great songs and they played a lot of them Sunday night, but there was just too much baggage in the room to really enjoy the show.
BJM photo from iamdonte’s flickr page. The Dimmer pics are mine.