God Bless The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Live Review and Photos

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion 2014

On their way to this year’s Coachella festival, the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion brought their signature down and dirty, groovy blues-tastic extravaganza to Slims in downtown San Francisco. In a dark and sweaty club is where this incredibly talented trio truly shines. The jam packed room would become fertile ground for the controlled explosion of rock n roll greatness that would soon grace the Southern California desert.

I say God Bless the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion because rock n roll would be a lot less fun and innovative without them. In addition, there would be no White Stripes or Black Keys, two of many who cite the trio as a major influence. There’s simply no other band that blends blues, punk, hardcore, hard rock, classic rock, and funk better than these guys and they haven’t missed a beat in 20 years. The audience was in complete agreement as I overheard the guy next to me screaming into his buddy’s ear; “they still got it man!”

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion Live

“Still got it” is an understatement. Even though the trio does not perform with a bassist, it’s not missed at all as Spencer lays the foundation using two low-tuned and fuzz heavy guitars and rocking a double Theremin. (Jimmy Page used a Theremin during his infamous violin bow solo) The tasteful licks from guitar man Judah Bauer are  the icing on an upside down cake while drummer Russell Simins literally beats the hell out of his drums Keith Moon style with nearly perfect rhythm. I think he kicks back just enough to keep the groove locked in to match the greasy feel of the songs overall.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

The setlist was a cornucopia of awesomeness, which come to think of it, I didn’t see a written setlist anywhere on the stage. No surprise. Regardless, there were the classics, the “hits” (if you can call them that) and my personal favorite of the night, the return to style called “Bag of Bones” from the 2012’s Meat and Bone. It’s arguably one of the band’s finest moments not too mention one of the best records to come out that year.

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion 2014

Spencer himself is quite the entertainer live as well. He leads around on stage with a sort of Jimi Hendrix meets Elvis type of style and attitude. They just don’t make them like this any more folks. The show was spectacular, the songs reminded me to celebrate the band’s entire catalog, and I am just pissed that I can’t make it to Coachella to see them do it all again, x100.


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Bottom line: The fans are there, the magic is there, let’s hope the Blues Explosion give us a new record and another round of tour dates in the fall. Wait, I have an idea, why doesn’t the Black Keys take them out for their new album tour? Someone please make this happen.

Check out more shots in the Gallery.

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Jason Miller
Jason Miller

Jason Miller is a leading digital B2B marketer, who’s held senior roles at LinkedIn, Marketo, and ActiveCampaign. Before entering the B2B space, he spent ten years at Sony, developing and executing marketing campaigns around the biggest names in music. He is a prolific keynote speaker, digital marketing instructor at UC Berkeley, and best-selling author. Also an accomplished rock concert photographer, his work appears in books, magazines, and album covers.

1 thought on “God Bless The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion: Live Review and Photos”

  1. Paul McDermitt

    Thanks for the awesome write up. I been digging the JSBE vibe for 20 years now. Hope they come to town sometime, after this review, they are on my must-see list. I am glad they are still getting the street cred they deserve.

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