Team Fan-Belt Recaps The Jesus Lizard, 11.24.09

The Yow in his natural state. Photo by Andy Junk

Words By:

Anthony Schwader (AS)
Abbie Amadio (AA)
Dan Agacki (DA)

(Note: Pretty much everyone from our humble little Fan-Belt crew attended Tuesday night’s ridiculawesome Jesus Lizard/IfIHadAHiFi show at Turner Hall, so it was decided we’d attempt a trainwreck of a combined, oral-history-style review of the show. Let’s see how this works out. –DJ)

AS: Let me start by saying this: The Jesus Lizard are a true testament to real rock and roll. Their music is deceptive, performed with mastery of spacing and tension that’s beyond the skillset of most anyone I’ve seen live. A fucking supersolid high energy burst of explosive control. This is time number four seeing them and each of their previous shows rank in my top ten. They are that good. Period.

DA: There’s no posing on this one. Straight confessional here folks. My teenage Jesus Lizard exposure was brief. Shot had just come out, and I tossed it off because it didn’t sound like Scratch Acid. Absurd, I know. Roughly ten years later I re-immersed my brain and came away with, basically, the opposite results. So, Tuesday’s show was a shot at redemption.

AA (who did her recap, in her words, “Twatter style”): David Yow just dove into the crowd less than a minute after walking on stage.

AS: Damn! There’s was no freaking way I was going near all these amped up mosh puppets with my flimsy tennis shoes. This is what steel toe boots are made for. I had to step back to avoid getting a fist to the face, and my pit instincts came right back to me. The rhythm section, powered by David Wm. Sims on bass and Mac McNeilly on the drums, is a precise unstoppable force, a raging freight train going far too fast, but still in perfect control. They directed and drove each song, laying the foundation for guitarist Duane Denison to sling sheets of controlled notes and high pitched haze when he wasn’t reinforcing the back end.

AA: “Seasick” is the third song. This is one of the songs I wanted to hear the most. The crowd smashes into each other at the front of the stage.

Photo by Andy Junk

AS: On stage both Sims and Denison were mostly and sadly immobile, but it played right into sweet contrast, as the charismatic Yow was what all eyes were on. He personified the songs by miming and acting out the lyrics, complete with gesturing, posing, and the flailing of arms. He scowled, he spat, he paced and he twitched. He treated the mic like he hated it, slamming it against his head, slinging it haphazardly here and there, even ignoring it all together, as it simply hung at his side while he screamed at the crowd.

AA: The pit is weak (side note: until the encores)—but awesome to get up front and dance without getting sweaty dudes’ balls/asses in my crotch/chest. It is also very polite—excepting one hippie dude who kind of drunkenly sways from one side to the other without ever looking where he is going. This is unexpected. I expected the entire front half of Turner to be a swaying riot of pushing and shoving. Also, a bit surprised that most of the audience in the back is just kind of staring. Whatever.

“Nub.” Yes! “Gladiator.” Yes! “Mouthbreather.” Yes!

AS: The way Yow handled the space in between songs was true veteran stuff, cracking one liners aimed at Wisconsin (“My father had sex with Bart Starr”), dedicating a song to a fallen friend, and many other times just silently staring at the screaming people and countless cans flying through the air, eyes darting back and forth – they were in complete control. He even quipped how we must feel concerned by all the pressure they endure being in the ‘best fucking rock band of all time’.

AA: Yow flirts with showing the crowd his penis. Kind of a joke at this point. Love that he’s playing into it and making fun of himself. Tease.

AS: As they continued on, they played a smart mix of familiar hits and dusted off lesser known works. I had forgotten how powerful these songs are. Song after song was pure perfection, a fanboy’s wet dream, and a live album waiting to happen. I didn’t detect a mistake, and I can’t poke a single goddamn hole in what they did. They might just be the best band of all time. The final song of their set ended with Yow saying goodbye and walking off stage, leaving the remaining three chiseling away at the breakdown. After consuming the song, Denison and Sims walked off leaving just McNeilly still hammering away at the drums.

AA: First encore: David Yow gets carried into the crowd as far as the mike cord reaches. Calls someone an asshole, crowd passes him a little forward, he asks to get passed back then thumps the asshole on the head with the mike a few times. God damn it. Wish I would have seen it rather than just heard it. A thump I will never forget.

Photo by Dan Agacki

AS: On the farthest surf expedition, he was a good sixty feet from the stage and it ended with Yow slamming the mic on some poor schmuck that had undoubtedly stoked his ire. THUNK THUNK THUNK! I couldn’t wipe the smile off my face.

Four more brutal songs followed and back they went again. I went to get my hoodie from the chair, completely satisfied and smiling. But as I was chatting and putting it on, I noticed the lights were still dimmed and the people were getting loud again. Were they really going to come back again?

AA: Whoa, second encore!

AS: Yow, now sweat soaked and looking like the old deranged outcast that lives up on the mountain, stared at everyone and asked “What the hell is wrong with you people?” The third set flew by me, and I too ended up a sweaty mess. Ha! I was violently thrashing right by the heated pitsters and I didn’t realize I had put my hoodie back on. Eww. It didn’t really matter because I had a four block walk to where I was parked in the cold drizzle anyways. And even that flew by.

DA: Four old men emerged on stage, and with the first note proved that age is irrelevant. I swear, they must have secretly not broken up, just kept practicing for a decade. Every note, spot on. Perfection. There was a workman-like intensity and a bit of surrealism to it all. Imagine getting a second chance to witness a legend perform, and with each second, they live up to their lofty billing. That was my Tuesday night. As Duane Dennison struck the opening chord of “Seasick,” the smile was inescapable. I knew I was witnessing a special moment. It changed my brain.

AA: End: Tired, sweaty, adrenaline still going. Awesome. Full on antagonist aggression. David Yow is king.

(Note: More excellent Jesus Lizard and IfIHadAHiFi photos, by the excellent CJ Foeckler, have been posted to Turner Hall/Pabst Theater’s Facebook Page.)

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4 Responses to “Team Fan-Belt Recaps The Jesus Lizard, 11.24.09”

  1. Chris Van Gompel Says:

    The guy who got brashed with the mic threw a full beer into Yows face at point blank range, he got what he had coming…

  2. Anthony Schwader Says:

    Now! Who’s going to the new years eve show? I am!

  3. cal Says:

    How about that guy who heckled ifihadahifi? In their home town? Way to go, Milwaukee!

  4. DJ Hostettler Says:

    Honestly, Cal, while i don’t know who that was, there’s a pretty good chance it was a friend of ours. Come to a HiFi Cactus show sometime; our friends heckle us mercilessly there!

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