These were the words that proto-rocker Jon Spencer shouted out and after just about every damn song, hawking his band like some old time travelling salesman hawking snake oil. But there was nothing disingenuous about The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion’s performance Friday night at U Street Music Hall. In fact it’s safe to say that judging by the walls of feedback, subhuman wails and sweat that flowed off of the stage, there has never been a more appropriately named band in Rock and Roll history.
Rarely does an artist so evenly match their musical abilities with their showmanship, but Jon Spencer and crew have been doing this for over twenty years, so that they put on a hell of a show in the truest sense of the term should come as no surprise. Touring in support of their latest effort, Meat and Bone, the trio ripped and shredded their way through tracks “Black Mold,” “Ice Cream Killer” and “Black Thoughts” with Spencer howling/growling at the mic in fits and spurts between leaps in the air, splits and over the top guitar heroics that easily shamed the majority of performers half Spencer’s age. Which is not to say that it was unexpected in so much as to ask the question “When are kids these days gonna sack the f@#@ up and put on a show?”
Taking time to travel way, way back into the Blues Explosion’s past, the group’s first single, “Shirt Jac” made an appearance late in the set, as did a good chunk of material from 1994’s Orange, and 1996’s Now I Got Worry. Throwing in a Beastie Boys cover (“She’s On It”) and the short, but hard rockin’ theme to Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations for good measure, Spencer and crew made sure that nobody walked away Friday night unsatisfied, rocked or otherwise moved to very bad things in the very best of ways.
Sweaty, primal and essential, The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion seemingly exists to do one thing and one thing only, and that is to ROCK. No muss, no fuss, just honest to god, old fashioned, hip shaking, pants dropping rock and roll without a hint of irony. Take a lesson kids, because as long as this band is on the road school is in session.