We’ll sit there just relaxing, while he’s bleeding from his ears…
That fecker’s had it coming, just shy of seven years
Moody @ the Jesus Lizard, the Metro, Chicago
This tale of salvation begins some 14 years ago, when a hapless 15 year old failed to raise the capital to check out his first big music festival. That Big Day Out was the last opportunity I had to see the Jesus Lizard. They did return to Adelaide a couple of years later to play an over 18’s show at the Tivoli – but the b_m fluff on my 17-year-old upper lip wasn’t fooling anyone as to my legality.
The Jesus Lizard broke up… and I was imprisoned in a cubicle.
However in the last year of that dark decade, escape plans were being hatched. Plans were firming for liberation and a new life in the UK by the end of April 2009… and then the Jesus Lizard announced a reformation gig in the UK in May 2009! Stars were aligning!
The visa came through. A resignation notice was floated. A one way fare to Heathrow was purchased… and Jesus Lizard tix were booked… But… then the scheming warden outsmarted this simple inmate. Prison authorities promised a 2+ year deployment to Spain, if inmate Moody just saw out another 6 months of his sentence. The plane fare and the Jesus Lizard ticket went unused… 6 months passed and I found myself no closer to Spain.
December came and I drew my first icy breath as a free man in old London town. When I saw that the Jesus Lizard was playing a New Years Eve gig at the Metro in Chicago, no ocean could stop me.
Before the TJL gig, my visit to Chicago had been eventful to say the least. There was a Xmas day incident with a Latin-King-backed drug dealer on the vacated downtown streets. Less scarily there was a NFL game at Soldier Field won by the Bears in over time, metal burgers at Kuma’s corner, local stoner/prog bands at the Empty Bottle… and there was a lot of being cold. A LOT of being cold, dude.
I wandered down to the Metro, on an unsurprisingly cold New Years Eve. Wrigley Field is almost directly across from the Metro – so I paused to take in where the Illinois Nazis had thought Jake and Elwood lived, and the site of the curse of the billy goat.
The Metro is a theatre venue, with a large balcony. It would have a smaller capacity than the Thebby back home, and it wasn’t as pretty as the London theatres. But would you want to see the Jesus Lizard in a pretty theatre? The music ain’t pretty. David Yow certainly ain’t pretty. It makes sense to see them in aging dirty theatre. The place has character.
However character and solid acoustics are no excuse for $6 Miller Lites. A couple of nights before, the Empty Bottle charged $2.50 for beers that I could actually stomach… Anyways, after a couple of Miller Lites, Disappears punched out a solid half hour of alterno rock.
About a minute before midnight, The Jesus Lizard boarded the stage. Shortly after climbing onto his kit, the drummer, Mac, began a low key countdown to midnight. At the stroke of midnight, the band launched straight into the chorus of Seasick, and the front man, David Yow, hurled himself at the crowd. The count went from one to Yow lying on the heads of punters.
Yow busted a lung earlier in the year doing this kind of gear, yet he still spent more than half the night on the punters heads. His feet never touched the floor and he never missed a lyric. The man is a glorious train wreck. Half a century old, long hair and balding, the man was falling down drunk before he hit the stage.
Yow brings a manic energy to the show which the packed floor couldn’t help but reciprocate… But it only works as well as it does due to the tightness of the band behind him. They are the straight men to his loose cannon.
Yow is definitely old school punk rock. He isn’t what you would call a traditionally talented singer. What he brings is a crazy energy to both the records and especially the live performance. The band, however, are a talented bunch, who brought something different and new to the scene. I don’t know what they call them these days – post-punk? noise rock? Oddly-timed riffs stop-start on a dime with Duane Denison’s guitars over the top colouring the pieces….
The first track, Seasick, went in to Gladiator. Man, the band was tight. I guess any possible cobwebs have been long blown out after several months of touring.
After 3 or 4 tracks, Yow climbed back onstage and asked if everyone was alright. The question should have been posed to himself. His eyes were barely open – he looked unstable on his feet. The dude was sauced.
With no album out in the last decade, the band was free to play a best of set. They reached back to all the albums except Blue. Whatever your favourite Jesus Lizard track is, they played it – Glamorous, Blue Shot, Thumbscrews, Wheelchair Epidemic, Dancing Naked Ladies, Mouthbreather, Fly on the Wall, Puss…. After 70 sweat drenched minutes, with two short towel breaks, they encored with Blockbuster and Chrome.
This was not just a good performance for a band 15 years after their prime. There are few bands around that can do a gig of this quality – a mix of tightness and manicness. Energy and precision… I heard that this might be their last gig. I hope not. Cos I think the Jesus Liard 2009 is more than just pleasant reminiscing. I think this is something 2010 could use.