Excitement levels were clearly running high as we watched throngs of people descend upon the Rock Block Tuesday night to catch The Jesus Lizard's first U.S. show in more than a decade. We took the fact we hadn't seen this many Nirvana, Melvins or Shellac shirts at a show since before our balls had dropped as a good sign of things to come. Like the rest of the crowd, who had come from far and wide, we were ready to party like it was 1999--or '91.
Openers Pine Hill Haints, who hail from Huntsville, Ala., were more enjoyable than your garden variety rockabilly ensemble. Acoustic-based, they had a bit of a Celtic sound infused with their loose, insert-whiskey-referencing-cliche-here feel. While their set was appreciated by the crowd, it felt more like waiting room music as people were enraptured in anticipation of the main event.
Luckily it wasn't long before David Yow led the band onstage and told the topical bon mot: "What's the difference between Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson? ....About 5 hours." Then the band launched into the opening one-two punch of "Puss" into "Seasick." Can you say "holy shit"?
When guitarist Duane Denison told the Scene in a recent interview that singer "David Yow has been flying through the air with reckless abandon" at the band's recent reunion shows, he wasn't kidding. From the get-go, Yow was flailing all over the stage like a man possessed. Hawking lugees, blowing snot rockets and constantly leaping into the arms of the crowd who would swallow him whole--some of those leaps being somersaults--it seemed like Yow spent as much time being passed around (yes, crowd-surfing) as he did onstage.
And the band? They sounded tighter than a Republican's asshole. Denison, as expected, played like the Yngwie Malmsteen of noise-rock guitar while drummer Mac McNeilly mercilessly pounded out the beats like a factory machine and David Wm. Sims Bass playing churned our bowels. In both sound and spirit it was as if not a day had past since the band broke up.
While many in this sold-out crowd had clearly come in from out of town to see this show, we did notice many familiar faces acting in a way we've never seen them act before. This is what it's like when Nashville gets passionate, and it rocks. A comical moment came during "Then Comes Dudley," when a rather round security guard ran across the stage to eject one unruly fan who was able to briefly escape his clutches, causing a Looney Tunes-like game of cat and mouse that ended with a hilarious banana-peel fall by the security guard, amusing band members and crowd alike.
The show went on for about an hour-and-a-half, covering all the best bases of the band's catalog, focusing mainly on their Touch and Go releases and featuring such classics as "Mouth Breather," "Chrome," "Boiler Maker," "Destroy Before Reading," "Nub," "Gladiator," "Thumbscrews," and The Spin's favorite "Monkey Trick." There was never a dull moment and each song sounded--as intended--like pure evil. Years from now people will be saying, "Remember Jesus Lizard in the summer of '09, now that was a fuckin' show!" We even bought a T-shirt. Then we made our way out of the club, drenched in sweat, and watched the Elliston Place foot traffic, as people went about their pathetic, Jesus Lizard-less lives.