[Jandek] JANDEK LIVE AT THE ICA in BOSTON
soccerdude219 at yahoo.com
Sat Jun 9 09:06:01 PDT 2007
I was there too.
I had brought along my copy of "You Walk Alone", hoping to catch Jandek walking around the galleries or out to his car or something, to ask for an autograph. Unfortunately (or perhaps fortunately) I didn't see him, not that I made much of an effort to. I figured there were probably a bunch of listers in attendance, and wondered if they'd cringe to know that Daniel Marks was also in the audience, but then I realized that was a pretty egotistical thought and purged it from my head.
The performance was pretty mind blowing. I don't share others' criticisms of the drummer. I found that he made an excellent counterpoint to the others' playing- to me it represented a vision of a chaotic and overexcited future as expressed in Jandek's lyrics which were quite paranoid in their fear of something coming to invade our man's peace:
"You knocked on my door
You didn't know I was inside
And I wasn't"
That's a paraphrase of the opening line. Pretty weird, and it just kept up after that. It sounded to me like he was referring to the threat of an oncoming manic episode, as he explained that now he wouldn't sleep and he'd be full of useless energy. But it could be a lot of things, really, and it's probably my own experiences with low-grade mania that lead me to think that. Still, there was definitely a sense of a storm returning after a relatively long period of peace, something Jandek seemed resigned to despite his fear.
He played too long for my tolerance. I was pretty much right there with him for the first third, and had my head in my hands by the end. It was probably not good for my mental health, as it felt like an eerily good soundtrack for the past few weeks of my own experience, but that made it all the more effective. It reminded me that I have a hard time with the Jandek albums that are the same mode all the way through. That's probably why I the "tuneful" period the most of his recordings, as those records are the most varied. That said, the performance last night was pretty great, among the best live sets I've heard from Jandek, right up there with "The Cell".
I'm going to get lynched for saying this, but I was still amused, not just hearing but seeing him live, by the fact that he was by far the least inventive and least skilled player amongst the four. But it doesn't matter much, because he's Jandek, and he contributes something no one else could, and still manages to feel like the rightful center of attention even when playing a background instrument such as the bass. And anyway, his bass playing was pretty cool, even if he didn't quite seem to know what he was doing in the way the other musicians clearly did- and gratefully, his bass playing isn't nearly as grating as his current guitar playing. I think the bass fits him in his old age. It's a deep, wise instrument that doesn't feel the need to prove itself (unless it's played by Flea or Les Claypool), content in the knowledge that, whether anyone notices or not, all the other instruments swirl musically around it. Again he had a Godin, making me wonder if he has some
amazingly hip endorsement deal with that company. That's a damn cool bass...I gotta get me one o' those.. it sounded the most like a stand-up bass of any electric bass guitar I've ever heard.
Lyrically a lot of it was great, though I found "The House of Despair" to be a pretty cheesy metaphor, like the title of some shitty survival horror movie that comes out in August, but he kind of made it work, by treating it in a very non-cheesy way, and it reminded me of how remarkable it is that Jandek's poetry finds a way to transcend such cliched metaphors and moon-june-spoon rhyme schemes. Maybe it's in his delivery. When Jandek says he's in a whirlpool, you know from the sound of his voice that he's in a whirlpool. He means it so literally as a description of his emotional state that it stops really seeming like a metaphor, the way we no longer think of "table legs" as a metaphor.
The peak of the show for me came early, after the second or third song, when Jandek let out a quick but intense sigh, and resumed the gig. He seemed to purge a cascade (whirlpool?) of thoughts from his head with that gesture. It was worth the price of admission just to see that.
I sat up in the fifth or so row, on the side of the stage Jandek was on, so the music stand blocked his face when he was singing. I was vaguely annoyed, but it seemed appropriate that I was finally this close and he was still obscured.
I heard that the Grim Reaper wanted to start a rock band, but then he heard Jandek and figured the dude had it pretty much covered.
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