[Jandek] Austin show...

Josh Ronsen austinnitus at yahoo.com
Thu Sep 1 14:51:57 PDT 2005

What I wrote for another email list:

The show was amazing, easily surpassing all
expectations. His guitar tone was clean, much less
distortion than used on the bootlegs of the U.K.
shows. A lot of percussive raking and clanky chords
that would dissolve into little melodic fragments.
Something very strange: his backing band was comprised
of two friends of mine and someone I’ve worked with in
a large ensemble. The three of them, two drummers and
an electric bassist, are all involved in the energetic
free-improv/experimental scenes in Austin and Houston.
Juan Garcia, the bassist from Houston whom I do not
know very well, provided exceptional support, ranging
from jazzy runs up and down the fretboard, to very
sustained high pitches, to slow rhythmic pulses. There
were at least two points where all the musicians were
playing full throttle, and one point where Jandek
openly smiled at Juan. Nick Hennies and Chris Cogburn,
who work together on many occasions, played perfectly
off each other. I haven’t had a change to talk to my
friends, to find out what the one rehearsal the day of
the show was like, but I will surely put that
information in my upcoming memoir “I Know Someone Who
Talked to Jandek.”

The twelve songs were apparently all new and sang off
of a lyric book on a music stand (which blocked
Jandek’s left hand from my view when he faced me). The
songs were uniformly downers, with lyrics like (and I
am paraphrasing from endorphin-soaked memory) “You
don’t like me, you don’t want me, I will only bring
you down, I only want what I cannot have.” Jandek did
not address the audience at any time, nor did he
introduce the band, nor come back on for an encore.
After twelve songs, he put his pick in his shirt
pocket, put his guitar in its case, grabbed his lyric
book and walked off the stage, leaving his backing
band onstage to wild applause.

What was very strange was to see how he played guitar,
how he moved his hips, how he sometimes pivoted his
toes about his heel, how he moved his somewhat
skeletal right hand in a circular motion on the
strings. He was dressed all in black/dark grey with a
hat as in the photos from the U.K. shows. The show
apparently was officially recorded from the board and
at least two bootleg recordings were made (shhhhh…).
There were two videocameras, one in the balcony and
one roving about the stage, and three still
photographers. No merch table, besides for brochures
from the Freemason temple where the event was held.
More surprising than Jandek performing in a Freemason
temple, next week they host a musical of "Charlotte's

-Josh Ronsen
in Austin, Texas

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