"This happens every night," guitarist Ricky Rene Maymi said while sneaking a smoke inside the Casbah on August 17. Anton Newcombe, the mercurial vocalist behind the Brian Jonestown Massacre, was in the midst of a rant about Iraq and Afghanistan, implying he could fix things over there with his music.
Maymi and fellow guitarist Frankie Teardrop were prepared for Newcombe's Andy Kaufman--esque antics. It's likely that other people at the sold-out show were, too. Dig!, the 2004 Sundance Film Festival Grand Jury Prize--winning documentary chronicles the rise and fall of the friendship between BJM and the Dandy Warhols. The movie paints Newcombe, the only remaining founding member of the band, as a lunatic afraid of success and failure.
Before their Casbah show, BJM had canceled two dates due to Newcombe's throat ailments. He seemed mellow as he entered the Casbah. Maybe he feared using his raspy voice to sing, because he spent 10 to 20 minutes between each song tuning his guitar and berating his guitar techs and the opening band (which featured a former BJM member). The tuning began to wear on the crowd. Audience members shouted encouragements ("We love you, Anton. Play for us, Anton") and epithets ("Fuck you, Anton." "Just fucking play").
After telling a few overweight hecklers, "I don't come to Taco Bell to criticize you" and asking Casbah security to take them out so everyone could have a good time, Newcombe told the crowd they were lucky he wasn't Frank Sinatra because he would have had the hecklers killed by the mafia.
Other highlights included Newcombe telling a female heckler her ovaries were cankerous and that it was no wonder Kurt Cobain killed himself after having to deal with fans like these. Someone yelled, "You're a fucking idiot." Newcombe responded, "I'm not a fucking idiot. I'm a fucking genius." One accomplished San Diego musician in attendance said afterward, "I don't really see the genius."
In between the shenanigans, a few songs were played, including two intense instrumental jams. Newcombe proved he wasn't all bad; he gave a fan a guitar pick.