Music to Take Shrugs By

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Spiritualized frontman and “space rock” pioneer J. Spaceman (Jason Pierce) isn’t known for being particularly apologetic about the role drugs play in his creative process. While other bands might use thinly veiled metaphors such as “Mary Jane” or “brown sugar” to refer to their muse, Spaceman preferred a more direct approach when he titled the seminal 1993 Spacemen 3 album, Taking Drugs to Make Music to Take Drugs To.

In 2003, the drug mythology surrounding Spaceman’s music took an unexpectedly humorous turn via an awkwardly edited Philadelphia Weekly article titled “Rebirth of Cool” in which then Delta 72 frontman Gregg Foreman (now a hired gun for Chan Marshall) referenced a Spiritualized show as the benchmark for when the heroin use among Foreman and the city’s assorted scenesters was allegedly at its peak. Unfortunately, the sentiment was worded so as to infer that Spiritualized got off the stage and literally injected everyone in the audience with heroin. It would be pretty impressive if it was true, but something tells us Spaceman is loath to be that generous with his stash.

After releasing Spiritualized’s latest album, A + E, fresh off a battle with a life- threatening illness, Spaceman seems slightly more cautious about glorifying that “hurricane in [his] veins.” However, he’ll never take outright responsibility for endorsing drug use, and it’s debatable as to whether he actually should: a quick polling of his fans at the July 26 Williamsburg Hall of Music show reveals that those who are intimately familiar with his output are more than eager to warn impressionable youth about the pitfalls of drug addiction, when asked about the role drugs might play in their appreciation of the music, provided those fans have a few beers in them.

“Drugs are for the youth,” explained an attractive blonde with a short bob who asked to be identified as Lauren. “The most I have these days is a few beers, for I am old.” According to Lauren, “old” is the “30-35 range.”

This reporter is 29. “Well are you old enough to know better than to do heroin?” Lauren demanded as she waved around the beer.

Lauren can rest assured that this 29-year-old knows better than to do heroin.

“Can I say that exhaustion is a drug? Because right now it is,” explained 38-year-old Elizabeth, who then offered that she just switched careers from graphic design to teaching.

Elizabeth’s date, a stocky, bearded man returned to his seat with a glass in hand and claimed that he was “high on tequila and anticipation for a fantastic set.” He punctuated this declaration with a hearty sip.

He also claimed that he is “very 38” and explained that he’s been a fan since 1989, during the Spacemen 3 era.

When asked for his name, he replied, “Just call me B. Spaceman. Certain people in the city will know who I am.”

Sure, dude. Whatever you say.

“Come on, what are you doing asking about drugs, I’m a school teacher and these are old people!” exclaimed Phil, a baby-faced fan wearing large aviator glasses. “The median age at this show has to be 30.” (When asked how old he looks, I offered, “I don’t know, 24, 25?”)

“God bless you,” Phil replied before sipping his beer and addressing an invisible audience of school children, “Kids, you gotta stay off drugs!”

Some fans felt more comfortable offering up what drugs they wished they were on, even if they weren’t comfortable offering up their last name or age. Evelyn, a student who appeared to be in her mid-twenties, shrugged and matter of factly stated, “I wish I was on MDMA.”

The most curious concertgoer was a stocky gentleman with studded bracelets and spiky hair named Evan who had never heard Spiritualized or Spacemen 3 before but “just wanted to see a good show.”

“I bought a ticket off a guy from the street. He seemed all right.”

Unfortunately Evan missed part of the good show when he nodded off into his beer and then abruptly jumped awake and bolted out the exit door, missing the encore.

Now that’s a bit more like it.

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