[Jandek] Richmond Sunday - Thoughts
anxietyparty at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 12 22:40:04 PDT 2007
I should just start this off by saying that this was the single best concert I've ever seen, bar none. While this was my first live Jandek experience, and while I am pretty versed in the Corwood catalog, I stand by the opinion that this show is the best music I've ever heard the man make. With that said, here's what I heard and saw:
There were six songs, all of which seemed to clock in at somewhere around 15-30 minutes each. They all seemed to follow a recurring formula where the band would play for what seemed like 6 minutes or so before Jandek would step up and sing a few short verses, at which point the band would drop into a specific group of notes or a certain drumline, and then once the vocals finished they went right back into the jamming. This formula was extremely effective as it gave the Corwood rep 90% of the showtime to stand with his back to the audience and the band, staring at a window with a shade drawn over it and an art piece that I was told referenced Feat & Loathing In Las Vegas. He seemed to stare relentlessly at it until something seemed to stir him, and then he'd start frolicking around in his own frail style...almost erotically screwing his guitar it seemed like!
The first song established the mood, as you can imagine, which was slightly prickly (a la White Box Requiem) only with some light brushstick drumming and some really long, breathy sax leads. The bassist was in perfect unison with the drummer throughout, and within the aforementioned formula, he really knew when to cut back and groove on 3 or 4 notes (almost funky at times) and then just go off on jazzy runs up and down the neck. This song was mostly pretty laid back, but not really empty at all. Just a nice starter for sure. Lyrics talked alot about Jandek being "inside your dream" and a little bit about "am I what you expected?"...that kind of thing.
The second song picked up the pace a bit, returning to the same style of the first song. This time the drummer broke out his actual sticks instead of the brushes and really introduced the tight, detailed beatwork he would continue to showcase through the rest of the set. The bassist also frequently messed with his volume knob on his bass, making these low end "waves" that created a kind of slow-rock back and forth feel with the basskicks from the drums. The lyrics in this one seemed to echo those of The Cell a bit, as I heard him clearly ask "What do I have?" a number of times. Could be a new rendition of The Cell? I doubt it.
The third song was quite possibly the heaviest Jandek moment I've ever heard...comparable only to The Electric End, in that the style was one big relentless nonstop bombast. All one big peak, no valleys. Jandek actually started shouting the lyrics in this one, and even flailed his arms around some, like he was desperate to be heard over all of it. I recall the lyrics in this song kept returning to repeated "I don't know, I don't know", which seemed to answer questions that might be asked by people who don't like or understand what Jandek does..."Hey, that didn't sound right...what's he on? I don't know, I don't know..." Insane. Absolutely incredibly mental. Loved it!
The fourth song (as one might expect, after seeing those poor musicians work out so hard in the third song!) toned it down ALOT. Very very soft, spaced apart bits of broken notes. More brushstick drums, lots of light cymbal work that almost seemed to get in the way at times. There was a very slow undertow in this one. The ballad of the night too. Lyrics about a girl. Very sad, almost an airy country-desert vibe to it. Jandek did more of the White Box sounding short-notes and the bassist built on this vibe by doing alot of dissonant harmonics on high notes.
The fifth song seemed to pick it back up a bit, but not anywhere near as heavy as the third song. This one seemed to ebb and flow between really hard plucked notes by Jandek and very chunky rhythms on dissonant chords. It actually got quite funky at times, with the bass focusing on a distinct groove. The drums also had a big headnod factor going on...almost like what it sounds like when DJs cut up a 4-bar break...constantly playing the same 4-bars of drums only starting the bars all over again in odd spots. I can't recall if this one or the last one had more sarcastic sounding lyrics sung, specifically Jandek repeating "Yeah! Yeah!" at the end of each verse.
The sixth song continued where the fifth one left off, but really packed in the punches as far as I can recall. At this point, I was so into the whole spectacle my brain kinda stopped trying to take notes, and I was just rocking out. Of course it ended in a standing ovation and I even saw the Corwood rep solidly smile at the band after it was finished for a good 30 seconds before they walked offstage.
Something about those last 30 seconds proved to me how human this music is...I've always looked at it that way but when you show up to a concert like this you have all these fantasy assumptions about what it will be. The man's music knows no boundaries and nothing disappointed me at all. Simply the best show I've ever seen. I wish I could've thanked him.
P.S. - I cannot WAIT for this to be released on CD/DVD. It was filmed too, so I'm sure it will see a release.
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