So fucking awesome is the musical prowess of the Jesus Lizard that I feel immediately compelled to tear down any other bands even attempting follow in its wake. In this case, Model/Actress sits in my path. I arrived at the re-union show at the Henry Fonda Theater intentionally late because I knew these feelings would come up, but–God, help me, I had to witness all of the second opening act’s set, and I’m too weak not to write about it! There will never be another Jesus Lizard, and upon its almost alarmingly solid performance, I hope nobody else even attempts to come close. Yeah, I’m that selfish when it comes to this band.
Model/Actress–I immediately hated the group approximately 8 seconds into the set. Looking at its MySpace page now, I’m almost shocked being as that members of Brainiac, Enon, and even the Jesus Lizard are involved in its creative output. But in a live setting just moments before the band that almost made “pigfuck” a household term–it looked and sounded like a group of dudes who just overheard somewhere that such music is cool. I felt irritated by their fedora hats, perfect fitting jeans and new leather jackets; and I guess more importantly, by the deep swaggering bass lines and wire-y guitar shards that sounded just a little too perfect. When the curtains were closing I kept my eyes peeled for the slick-haired fat man in shiny shoes and a suit clapping louder than anyone else.
A lot of other people at the show seemed to sorta dig Model/Actress, so I wondered if maybe I was being irrationally harsh, but I dismissed all second-guessing once I seemed to blink and suddenly realize David Yow was jumping on top of me and belting out the lyrics to “Puss.” The music and energy of the band kicked off so quickly that there was hardly a second to process it, and by the time any of us there did it was already too late and it didn’t matter. The band ripped through songs mostly from the Steve Albini/Touch & Go era (Thankfully–though, “Thumper” from Shot stood out as one of the highlights of the evening) at what almost seemed like record quality caliber. David Wm. Sims and Mac McNeily’s rhythm section sounded as tight as ever while Duane Denison effortlessly plucked, scraped, and peeled his way through the now legendary riffs of “Seasick,” “Mouth Breather,” “Gladiator,” “Destroy Before Reading,” “Glamorous…” And the slide guitar
that opens “Nub” still sounded meaner than a buzz saw.
And of course there was David Yow. Ahhh, David. You’re older now, your eyes softer, and your smile more apparent–but you still bring the fun while making us fear for our lives! Well, there wasn’t as much fear at the Fonda last week, but a couple of us got kicked in the eye a few times as we gleefully passed you along over our heads to watch you somehow sing/scream every lyric without missing a single beat.
And that’s what was so impressive about the reunion show from what some circles of rock music fans call the only band that truly mattered from the 90’s–somehow both precision and assault were at full-force even though the music seems more powerful than the people playing it now. These four men are considerably older these days, and to see them execute some of the most aggressive, melodic tune-age written in the past twenty years–and have it sound JUST AS assaulting as it was fifteen years ago–well, it wasn’t just impressive; it was the live reunion closest to picking up immediately where it left off. I’ve seen Iggy & The Stooges, New York Dolls, Nancy Sinatra, Jesus & Mary Chain, and My Bloody Valentine over the past few years, and while they were all great in their own ways, The Jesus Lizard affected me the most profoundly for providing a type of music that simply shouldn’t be coming out of such bodies. It just defied logic.
Wrapping the night with the Dicks’ “Wheelchair Epidemic,” I couldn’t help but feel it was also a “Goodnight” for a certain type of music that may never exist again. Bands like Model/Actress will find ways to afford the image and recording techniques that go along with similar pummeling sounds, but they just aren’t creating from an abrasive pop sensibility that was bred out of the same frustrations–namely, the frustration over not being able to create such songs so easily. The Jesus Lizard proved it takes years to sound authentically accomplished.