Two members of the Brian Jonestown Massacre started an altercation offstage that blew up into an all-out brawl onstage at the Forum in Melbourne, Australia. The November 21st gig was their ninth out of twelve scheduled. The remaining dates have been canceled.
As observed by spectators, the band continually left the stage to argue during the beginning of their set. From a front-row video, the tensions feel palpable from the looks that frontman Anton Newcombe was giving to guitarist Ryan Van Kriedt. At one point, Newcombe stepped up to the mic and addressed the crowd, lobbing insults at Van Kriedt and saying that Van Kriedt was only ready "to play resentments, not guitars," and turned his back.
Van Kriedt responded curtly into his mic, "Nobody asked you." Newcombe came back, pointing at the guitarist: "Cut off this guy's mic, put down my guitar, party's over, Captain," Newcombe can be heard telling Van Kriedt. "We actually don't need you. Go. Put my guitar down on the stage and think about what’s happening," Newcombe continued, then proceeded to walk off.
"You better think about this one, man. Because this is FOREVER!" Van Kriedt replied. He put his guitar down, walked over to Newcombe and the fight began with shoving, then escalated, with Newcombe throwing his guitar at Van Kriedt's head. The two chased each other around the stage, which ended up in a wrestling match on the ground, before crew and venue security managed to pull them off each other.
Newcombe returned to address the now vocally dissatisfied audience, announced "God bless this country," and sat on an amp. Two water bottles were thrown and the safety curtain was finally brought down.
Attendees took to social media to express their displeasure, interjected with some spot-on humor and pathos:
"It was a nightmare. Two hours on stage of just constant abuse and bickering, we only got two songs."
"Paid big money to see music, got a WWE act instead."
"43 years I've played in bands or crewed for them and I have NEVER seen the fire curtain deployed before."
"Anton is on a suicide mission. He needs to seek help, and I sincerely hope he does."
Currently, there is no explanation for the fight. The remaining shows have been canceled "on medical grounds." The band had been touring in support of its 20th studio album, The Future Is Your Past, which arrived in February under Newcombe's own label A Recordings.
Formed by Newcombe in the early 1990s, the Brian Jonestown Massacre would go on to develop a reputation for internal turmoil and Newcombe's often difficult relationships with fellow musicians, most notably Courtney Taylor-Taylor of the Dandy Warhols. The two bands were the subject of Ondi Timoner's 2004 documentary, Dig!, which won the Documentary Grand Jury Prize at the Sundance Film Festival. Ever prolific, the band's music has been featured in a variety of films and TV series, including Boardwalk Empire and Jim Jarmusch's Broken Flowers.