"I got word from the promoter that Anton had a meltdown and that either he had fired the band or that the band had deserted him," Creepy Crawl owner Jeff Parks told me.
So I was more than a little surprised to see Newcombe with full band in tow outside a club in the heart of Chicago's Wrigleyville, directing one of his signature tirades at a bouncer. (If you've watched the 2004 documentary Dig! or seen BJM live, you know that no one in rock and roll is more pompous, violent, self-aggrandizing and certifiably insane than Newcombe. He has called himself the son of God and is notorious for hijacking shows with his long-winded rants.)
As he ends this particular verbal barrage, a couple of kids recognize him and offer to buy him a drink before the show.
When he steps out with the random dudes to a nearby frat-friendly watering hole, I discreetly follow, figuring I might slip in a question about the fate of the Creepy Crawl show. But first I must endure another Newcombe rant, this one occasioned by Hurricane Katrina.
"I got some inside information at a show this week, man," Newcombe says. "It's fucking bad there. They still have all these bloated corpses floating around, and when they find them, they tie them to trees and they stand them up and mark them by spray-painting them with an X so they'll be found. Only it's so hot and they've been there so long that the bodies are starting to explode. They've got to pick them up with rakes. It's disgusting, man."
I nod my head in agreement. "Hey, Anton, by the way, what happened in St. Louis? I have a few friends who were supposed to see your show there."
"Oh, yeah," he says. "Well, we've been touring a lot, man. And my management company's a little worried, man, 'cause I'm a little loose in the caboose. You know, it's all a little scary, 'cause we're getting Nirvana popular."
Back at the nightclub, I catch the show. (Tickets aren't exactly Nirvana scarce.) Predictably, Newcombe interrupts the set to deliver a solid 20 minutes of verbal diarrhea that veers from Jessica Simpson and Johnny Knoxville ("That goddamn fucking fuckhead") to admonitions to the audience to stomp a heckler to calling a bandmate a "cocksucker." The band, meanwhile, steps to the side of the stage for a smoke break, looking like a bunch of bored factory workers waiting for the work bell to ring. When Newcombe finally shuts the fuck up, BJM sounds pretty damn solid but hell, who came for that, anyway?
But regardless of why anyone's coming to see Newcombe and his sidemen, they'll be disappointed. The Brian Jonestown Massacre has canceled its seven remaining tour stops.