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Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (electric) @ Great American Music Hall, 9/9/08

September 10, 2008

As much as I enjoyed last night’s intimate acoustic show, this is how BRMC is supposed to be seen.

In fact, they far exceeded my expectations. They were truly electric; letting their usual stoic, all-about-the-sound stage presence give way to a wild, impassioned performance for an audience hungry for some real rock ‘n roll.

They started off very strong, blasting us with 666 Conducer, followed by Berlin and Weapon of Choice. The front area- mostly females- were quickly frothed up into a frenzy, except for the strangely serene front row. I’m surprised some of the girls a few rows back didn’t try to jump on stage. Between Peter’s cigarette laden swagger and Robert’s frequent blurring of the audience/stage boundary, the guys oozed as much sex appeal as Mitchell Brothers on the corner wishes it could. Nothing about these guys is over the top; it’s all carefully controlled, equally shared, subtle rockstardom.



The audience was screaming out requests. Robert seemed to combat this by putting on his hood for several songs, and Peter’s out of control hair kept him from making eye contact with anyone. I fucking loved that his hair was wild and messy for this set compared to the straight slick ‘do you often see him with. So metaphorical.

Anyways, the crowd barely existed to them. They were there to rock, and nothing more. Standing and playing conveyed so much more personality than last night’s seated performance, as Peter rock ‘n roll slow danced around the stage with his guitar, and Robert twitched frenetically every so often.

via flickr/crindy

Even with last night’s show, the middle part of the electric set had Peter and Robert each performing a few acoustic songs. It was great to see Peter from this side of the stage- so much soul there. Robert took a few moments to remember how to play Chelsea Hotel, which was pretty funny. He also played a new song, The Absent.

The duo switched sides more often than I had seen before, which was great for the audience. I loved my spot by the speaker, where I could dance with a clear view of both of them, but my ears are hating me for it today. With a name like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, it has to be loud.

At one point, during American X, I thought Robert was going to peg a very still fan in the front row with the neck of his guitar. He proceeded to get in front of the mic and play in front of this girl’s face, almost begging for a reaction. I don’t know if she was scared or bored or what, but she didn’t move a muscle. His gesture was left unreciprocated.

The encore came too soon. There was minimal talking, all done by Robert, telling the crowd thanks and that they were from the area. During Punk Song, something happened to Robert’s mic as he tried to bring it to the front, and I saw him say, “fucking bullshit” as a tech fiddled with it. The strobes were working on overdrive, and smoke drifted around the room asSpread Your Love ended our evening.

I really wanted to hear Love Burns, but I guess the set couldn’t be entirely perfect.

666 Conducer
Weapon of Choice
Ain’t No Easy Way
White Palms
Killing the Light
6 Barrel
Heart & Soul
The Absent
Too Real
Chelsea Hotel (cover)
Shuffle Your Feet
River Styx
American X
All You Do Is Talk
Took Out A Loan
The Show
Punk Song
Steal A Ride
Spread Your Love

OVERALL: 9.5/10
BRMC performance: 9.5/10
Diciembre Gris performance: 4/10 (their haphazard lyrics turned me off enough to not give them any words)
venue (Great American Music Hall): 9/10
crowd/scene: 7/10
value ($25/ticket): 9/10
memorable: 9/10

Nice Henry Rollins Show interview:


  1. It was electric and it was loud as fuck. I have never seen them play as aggressively as last night, and I have to agree with you, as much as the acoustic set was intimate, the electric night was memorizing. The one conclusion I can draw from both is that they love their music, they love to play their music, and it’s infectious.

  2. Did you hear Robert say “we’ll see you next time. we’ll be back soon”? That got me excited. I need more. Around 5 o’clock I started to think Wait! There’s no BRMC tonight? I have to just go home? Noooooooooo

    Perfect description of Robert “blurring the boundaries” of stage and audience. The way he plays guitar, holding it up high to his ear as if he needs to hear the sound as it’s being made in the hollow body. On more subdued songs he almost caresses it. And to do THAT crouched on the floor 3 inches (no exaggeration) in front of a girl’s face? Hello!?! I hope that this girl was just shell-shocked as she surely didn’t show any appreciation for that intimate experience. Next time they’re at a small venue I’m going for ‘rail’.

    Robert, please play in my face. In my face! (Sounds almost dirty doesn’t it? Maybe it should be. I think it’s my new fetish.)

  3. Thanks for the setlist, rock-chick…. it was a monster of a show. i unfortunately got there a bit late, and missed 666 conducer, but i quickly forgot that minor annoyance. me, my friend julie, and her new boyfriend, were positioned on the balcony, right above the stage, on the audience’s left. we (almost) got more enjoyment from watching the reaction of the girls in the front row…or in the case of the 2 teenage girls on the other side, the non-reaction! these 2 girls DID NOT MOVE. AT ALL! we were laughing at how distractingly creepy that must’ve been for peter (who was over there the most). it seemed the opposite to the girls on the other side who were a-fightin’ and a-fussin’ trying to “spread their love” to the guys… it was a fantastic show, and i was rocking out hard. it was the first time i had seen the new drummer, and she was pretty good. i loved the setlist-“all you do is talk”, “american x”, “took out a loan”, “killing the light”, and the leonard cohen cover, “chelsea hotel #2”, were amazing. i was hoping for “as sure as the sun”, and “op”, but i’ve seen them play those before… the highlight for me was “awake”, as i had never seen them play this live, and this was my 8th time (my old band actually played with their old band at the now defunct venue, the boomerang). they took lots of liberties with the performance of some of the songs…”salvation” into “heart and soul” was one that stuck out as being pretty cool. i love it when bands play with the arrangement of the recorded material. it almost creates a new song. if anyone knows of a link to a recording of the show, please pass it along. BRMC, baby! (81)

  4. Thanks for the write up..sounds like a damn great show, & I wish they’d do a couple down here in LA soon.

    I don’t know the song “River Styx”–can anyone place this one for me?

  5. I went to both the acoustic and electric show, and as much as I loved the acoustic show- the electric show rocked my socks off! It was AMAZING! The only other time I had seen BRMC was a couple months ago opening up for STP at the Greek. (I think I was one of the only people rocking out while they were playing at that show! Lame!) It was a good gig- but these shows were in a whole new class. Their playing was effortless, intimate, and memorizing. I even loved how Robert played much of the show with his hoodie cowled over his head. In between songs he seems to even pull it down farther as mimic the dark grunge coming from his bass. Super sexy.
    Almost every one of my favorite songs were played; including “Killing the Light” (my head exploded! two nights in a row!), “Rifles”, and “The Show is About to Begin” to name a few. I couldn’t believe they played for 2 1/2 hours! Brilliant!
    Thanks for the setlists!
    (Maybe I’m getting the shows mixed up, but didn’t they play “Rifles” at the electric show too?)

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