Monday, February 4, 2019

Live Shows: Jon Spencer + The HITMakers and Bodega, Great Scott, Allston, MA 2/1/19

Any time you go see a new project from one of your long time favorites, it's natural to worry about what the show will be like. I've seen far too many shows where a musician hires a band half their age to crank out songs with no emotion or sense of joy. Of course, this is Jon Spencer. There will never be anything to worry about with a live Jon Spencer performance.  

Jon Spencer + The HITMakers is similar enough to fans of Jon Spencer Blues Explosion but different enough to warrant a new project. The band consists of Jon Spencer on guitar along with a drummer, a percussionist, and a keyboard player. His new backing band is age appropriate, though. The percussionist is Bob Bert, Sonic Youth's drummer for Confusion is Sex through Death Valley 69. And by percussionist I mean he hit metal objects with hammers. The band busted out most of Spencer's fantastic 2018 album Spencer Songs the Hits! Definite highlights from the new material were "Ghost" and "Do the Trash Can." Spencer even went back to his days with Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and busted out "Dang" early in the set and played maybe the first minute or two of "Bellbottoms." At this point, Jon Spencer + The HITMakers lack the wild abandon of a Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show. There weren't the wild punk edged furious jams with Spencer rambling about the blues and rock 'n' roll, but maybe they just need to more into a groove to be able to do that. For an unbelievably special encore, the band brought Julia Cafritz, his bandmate in Pussy Galore, on stage to play four Pussy Galore covers.

Opening the show was Brooklyn's Bodega. Bodega blasted through a short-ish set of their punk art-rock that you can dance to songs. They're even more fun live than on their albums, truly performing and not just playing songs. They stop just short of being so artsy that they're gimmicky. Bodega had their own small set of fans that we're just there for them, and they were treated to a band that is going to be far bigger very, very soon. Songs like "How Did This Happen?!" and "Jack in Titanic" are going to propel this band to huge things. Bodega might be the most Brooklyn band I've seen live in years, and I mean that as a compliment.

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