The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – Lounge Ax, Chicago, IL, US (8 December 1993)

The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion show at Lounge Ax, Chicago, IL, US with Shorty on 8 December 1993.

“Bumping, grinding and undulating to The Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, the packed-in audience at Lounge Ax late Wednesday worked itself into a lather of perspiration while witnessing the New York trio’s white-hot fusion of hard-edged blues rock and frenzied punk.

The two-year-old Blues Explosion is anything but a straightforward blues act. Guitarist-vocalist Spencer-a former member of defunct underground noise band Pussy Galore-is equal parts punk rocker, rockabilly raver, white blues rocker and charismatic showman.

Combine the young Elvis, John Mayall and the Blues Breakers, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins and Sid Vicious-that’s pretty much the Explosion’s musical pedigree.

On Wednesday, Spencer and second guitarist Judah Bauer doubled up on jagged, low-end blues guitar vamps to create a thick sound that belied the band’s chosen no-bass configuration.

Drummer Russell Simins presided over his small trap kit like a kid too big for his sandbox, hammering out a taut snare back beat that cemented over any soft spots there may have been in the trio’s lean, mean arsenal.

There weren’t many. The band raised the ante throughout the show by picking up the tempo and blurring musical lines, passing sonic mile markers at a clip on its restless search for that namesake explosive moment.

At one point, en route to a theatrical blues-punk catharsis, Spencer fell to his knees and rose up again, spitting out the line “I got the blues!” five times in rapid-fire succession.

Then he turned around to conjure otherworldly sounds from his “Theremin,” an antique electronic oscillator-based instrument that emitted a variety of burbling, synthetic noises when he waved his hands past the white, antenna-like object on top of its wooden console.

Strange, abrupt and intense, but not boring.

Local quartet Shorty opened up the show with a challenging but tight set that sounded like the soundtrack to a panic attack.” – David Rothschild, Chicago Tribune