THE HI FI BAR
“Ladies and gentlemen right now I’ve got to tell you about. The fabulous, most groovy…” and we’re in; Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s 1994 album Orange riff-by-riff. The Hi Fi Bar is sold out, and each of us know exactly what we’re getting and we LOVE it. It’s dirty, it’s blues, it’s rock, it never stays in one place for more than 10 seconds, there’s a deep low-down sexy voice like Elvis’s that you can hardly make out because the guitars are loud and no one ever gets off the blues scale, there’s only one cymbal and three drums and that’s all we need. The rockabilly girls love it. The indie boys love it. The thirtysomethings punch the air, the teenagers sweat in the mosh and JSBX move like a lion picking off gazelles; Bellbottoms, Ditch, Dang, Sweat. “Play the blues, punk,” all played tighter than Spencer’s shiny black jeans, and they’re DAMN tight. No pause for applause, the next song kicks in and within seconds Spencer’s dangling his guitar against the floor while blasting another chunky riff that could power several White Stripes albums (in fact it probably did). You dig it? You do, but he’s already left it behind to remind you who you’re listening to, again: “The Blues Explosion, ya’ god-DAMN”. He doesn’t have to ask us twice to holler back to him; “My father was Sister Ray”, he knows we know.
The band burn through Orange and into the red - into the white-hot speed-driven rock, a full 90 minutes of sure-shot raw powered amps-to-11-sleaze. They leave, we scream, they come back. Now we get Mo’ Width, then some Extra Width before the band proceed to Fuck Shit Up: more exploding blues delivered faithfully to the faithful. Guitar tones and songs bleed together like they’ve got to get out by midnight, but time is doing weird things tonight. The stage is barely lit; we could easily have slipped through a channel in time to 1995 and the bizarre but killer choice of cover (Black Flag’s My War) adds to that feeling. Spencer might not be literally tearing a venue apart as he did an ABC TV studio in 1997, but there is just as much ferocity and intensity in the music and delivery. This gig acts as a rough case for this bizarre beast of an album to be considered not just a classic of the 90s, but also all time. Ladies and gentlemen I give you JSBX at the Hi-Fi Bar. Exhibit Fucking A.