BY MATT WYNNE Last night at the Starlight ballroom, I saw four middle aged guys put the current crop to shame. Easily one of the best shows I have ever been to. I have been trying to put my finger on exactly what it is about a band like the Jesus Lizard that stands in such stark contrast to much of the music I have heard and seen in the last few years. They are just authentic, and like all truly good things they require no explanation about why they are so good. Explanations serve their function when something awful is being packaged as palatable. Such is the case (in my opinion) with the opening band last night, and the experience of that contrast got me thinking about why I so rarely go to see shows anymore, and about music in general these days. I have heard the state of rock music these days being compared to being an adjunct of television. It seems to be more than just style over substance, it is style lauded as the primary feature and congratulated for its disposability. Music is fashion now. All it takes is a look around the room at the greasy yet coiffed scenesters to see this illustrated in the disposable identities sulking with their arms crossed and nursing their microbrews. I keep thinking that it wasn’t always like this, and last night on stage at least, was the proof.
So back to the show, the opening band was called Noveller. A waif in Williamsburg black silently took the stage with her Jaguar in tow and gave us forty minutes of auricular rape. Something along the lines of My Bloody Valentine getting really high and forgetting to make music with their swelling instruments. This was bad enough for FORTY plus minutes, but when she finally left I listened to the scenesters standing behind me congratulating themselves for ‘getting it’ and scoffing at those of us who were less informed. This hits a particular nerve for me. How many art student dropouts have used the disguise of “avant-garde” as a permission slip to pass off atonal dog-shit and call it art? Maybe I am stupid… but that fucking sucked.
The payoff for standing in place for those 40-minutes-ill-never-get-back is we were right up front and center when the Jesus Lizard came on. Certain people have presence. I don’t know the logistics of it, but you could feel the tension when they came out. David Yow had a scar under his left eye and his age shows when he is up close. They all looked like ten miles of hard road and I got that feeling as they were plugging in that I haven’t gotten in a long time. I had heard that their age wasn’t an issue, and its true. They sounded fucking awesome. I was right in the line of sight for Mr. Yow’s first stage dive, and it felt like the old days. Frontmen don’t come like him anymore, or maybe ever. I am clearly fawning, but they are worth it. The crowd was actually fun, verging on violent at times. My writing abilities can’t convey what it is like. If you are interested, look on youtube. All that I can say is that I’ll never see a show like that again, and it was so much fun. Remember Fun?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Matt Wynne last wrote for Phawker about the first time he got high.