[Jandek] Bristol gig report

Gavin gavin at arkhonia.co.uk
Thu May 18 10:15:56 PDT 2006

The two sets were with a trio of Chris Corsano (as announced), playing a nice
shiny Pearl kit (rather than his usual 'total Frankenstein model'), and Mick 
Flower (instead of Matt Heyner), playing a black Telecaster in the first set, 
and then his Japanese banjo for the second; both sets were about 70 minutes 
each, and consisted of long songs, the opener of the first set being almost 
20 minutes, and most averaging 15 minutes minimum. The overall tone of the 
first set was pretty brutal, and 'typical' inasmuch as there was a similarity 
with the sound of 'Glasgow Sunday' and 'Newcastle Sunday', but Chris Corsano's 
playing felt different to Alex Neilson's on these occasions...having seen 
Chris playing solo and in various combinations prior to this, and being partly 
familiar with some aspects of his playing, this was a surprise inasmuch as his 
responses to the guitar were similar to the drumming on the mid-period records: 
heavy pulsing and pounding rhythms that followed the rhythms of the guitar 
(Corsano/Flower duo performances I've seen have a 'pulse' that they both seem 
to lock into at certain points, but this was different again). 

The Corwood Representative played in his usual style of stabbing, heavily 
strummed guitar work, whilst Mick added a more droning guitar style 
- seemed like his open tuning included some strings tuned to the same note, 
and others a fifth above, creating a 'chorus'-like effect of dissonance. His 
playing allowed notes to ring out more, at some points using a slide, and 
providing a contrast to the other guitar. At times it seemed to almost provide a 
droning 'pedal note' which underlayed the pieces, something which Flower uses 
reguarly in the Corsano/Flower duo with the Japanese banjo (thanks to Danny Saul 
for the above observations).

The second set seemed to have a different 'character' to the first, but it was 
only different by degrees, although Mick Flower's Japanese banjo (either bowed, 
or strummed and plucked) did add something to the sound that I've not heard in 
any of the recent live performances or recordings, especially in combination 
with Chris' bowing of parts of his kit - and where the first set started 
full-on, the second began in a much more subdued way, and I could have listened 
to that combination of scratching and scraping and muttering for a very long 
time indeed... 

The venue was perfect, being a 110-seat cinema, and a surprisingly loud PA (I'd 
imagined it to sound less overwhelmingly oppressive than it did - felt like my 
teeth were vibrating through the first song, and I had a killing headache after 
the first set - but I was front row, pretty much in front of the left
side speakers), and the place seemed pretty full, at least for the first set;
some people seemed to leave about half way through the second, and one wag in 
the audience complained that it was 'too loud', and that it was hurting his ears 
when there was a lull prompted by a fire alarm bell - The Corwood Representative 
(there needs to be an easier way of saying this...as far as I'm concerned Jandek 
is the collective onstage rather than any individual) seemed amused at this 
point, whether prompted by the audience comment or by the interjection of the 

Observations: the way the lyrics were selected (from the usual ringbound book on 
a music stand) seemed haphazard, with a lot of flicking back and forth, and then 
a kind of nodding of confirmation to himself before turning towards Chris and 
cranking out the opening chord; the first song's lyrics were a variation on the 
ATP opener, only this time it was 'You're only 22...' rather than 'I'; one 
song's only lyrics were 'Wrap it up/Give me your presents' (or something like 
that - didn't make notes unfortunately), echoing the 'On The Way' song title; 
when the musicians came on, the black hat was put on once onstage (the same 
thing happened at Gateshead), as if the wearing of the hat was part of the 
ritual and the 'persona'; and, as per usual, there was no acknowledgement or eye 
contact with the audience, although Chris grinned at the obvious audience 
appreciation; both sets were recorded and filmed, and a person sat next to the 
cameraman at the end of the second set clapped and clapped and whooped, and I 
couldn't decide whether this was drunken enthusiasm or the 'rabble-rousing' 
described at the end of the Austin gig...it seemed a bit disingenuous (and quite 
obviously didn't prompt an encore).

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