Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Tongue Fu This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton, ON, July 12

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion / Tongue Fu This Ain't Hollywood, Hamilton, ON, July 12
Photo: Vish Khanna
There are certain entities that have a power that's impossible to ignore. They radiate before you and that's it, you have no thoughts other than "I'm staring at this thing, it's magic, and nothing else matters." That's what happens when the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion play; they bring the immediacy of now into closer range and make you realize how fucking awesome it can be.

Local supergroup Tongue Fu play a chugging, grit-infused bar rock, nestled within an obvious reverence for their first-wave punk heroes. This vibe mostly emanates from rookie lead singer/This Ain't Hollywood co-owner Lou Molinanro, who cuts an endearing, figure. His band consists of members of Teenage Head, the Doughboys, the Killjoys, the Dinner Belles, and more, and they mostly exhibit the calm demeanour of experienced tradesmen, plying their skills but not being all showy about it.

They leave Molinaro to soak up the limelight and he does so like a puppy dog getting his belly rubbed. "We're a proud Hamilton band," he noted more than once, glowing at the friends and many more strangers than usual, gathered in his bar. It was his birthday so maybe he was feeling especially awesome.

"You'll miss me when I'm gone," Jon Spencer sang, with all his heart, in a mid-song spiel during "Bag of Bones." By the time this song arrived, the Blues Explosion were already deep into a steamrolling set and his message was processed before he articulated it; we will never see the likes of him and his band again.

Sometimes we all take the best shit for granted because it's always been there, reliably transcending all the boredom and normalcy that surrounds us. More than 20 years since they emerged to stomp on mediocrity, Spencer, Judah Bauer, and Russell Simins continue to rile everyone up and unsettle the air with a rare mix of showmanship and deceptively raw talent.

The plan of attack (no other word does their approach justice) consisted of a classy JSBX revue; vintage songs from their first ten years (touching on virtually every LP from that era) segued into Meat + Bone tracks and a body slam cover of Beastie Boys' "She's On It" among other catalogue touchstones.

Simins still pounds his drums like a graceful cavemen, Bauer plays crazy licks while nonchalantly doing a kind of two-step with himself, and Spencer, in his silver bell bottoms and with a jack-in-the-box spring, commands a room like no other. The blues is number one. There should be no doubt about this.