LIVE REVIEW: Jon Spencer & the HITmakers in Cambridge, MA (01/24)

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LIVE REVIEW: Jon Spencer & the HITmakers in Cambridge, MA (01/24)

Photo: Michael Lavine

It was a super loud and thoroughly entertaining show on Tuesday night, as Jon Spencer and the HITmakers kicked off their winter tour at the Middle East Nightclub in Cambridge, Mass. Originally scheduled for Downstairs, the show was moved upstairs and on a chilly January night, the smaller space worked well with the vibrant tunes.

Jon Spencer and the HITmakers released their debut album, Spencer Gets It Lit, in April. Spencer is joined by Sam Coomes (Quasi, Heatmiser) on keyboards and Bob Bert (Pussy Galore, Sonic Youth) on percussion with Andy Zammit on drums for the tour. Bob Pert plays on a collection of trash cans and scrap metal, often with a set of hammers. It’s amazing and impressive and you really must see it yourself.

The experienced and highly-esteemed indie musicians meld varied musical elements resulting in a dazzling amalgam of garage punk, art rock, funk pop, blues and underground noise.The arty, offbeat Spencer is an engaging, charismatic performer with New England roots. He grew up in New Hampshire and attended Brown. His musical roots include 80s garage rock band Pussy Galore, punk-blues band Boss Hog and the blues rock band Jon Spencer Blues Explosion. I loved the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion song “Bellbottoms’ from a decade ago but never had a chance to see them so it was a treat to be able to finally see Jon Spencer with his latest project.

Being in Covid lockdown really made everyone question life, love, loss and the future. That’s reflected on every HITmakers song. The futuristic “Junk Man” featured infectious keyboard riffs. On “Death Ray,” fuzzy guitar and kinetic surfy keyboards showcase Spencer’s speak-sing “Hit me with your death ray/sock it to me” vocals. Other standouts of the night included the groovy and thoughtful “Bruise,” the honky tonk “Worm Town,” a song that ponders being in “a dirt nap, six feet under,” and the Elvis-y “My Hit Parade:”

“I’m gonna paint a pretty picture/

Dig my hit parade/

A little melody, beauty and perfection/

Dig my new poetry, yeah

Boston’s Muck and the Mires and Minibeast opened the night with dynamic, fast-paced, loud sets. It was an excellent triple bill and overall a fantastic night of music.

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