[Jandek] London Sunday

Gavin gavin at arkhonia.co.uk
Sat Jun 21 07:13:42 PDT 2008

The Jandek London Sunday performance was in a deconsecrated church
that is now used as a Rudolf Steiner school, and this was only the
second or third time (I think) that the building had been used as a
gig venue - there was a real sense that you were in a living building
rather just a temporary performance space, and there were all kinds of
signs of the fact that the hall was normally a children's schoolroom
(including pigeonholes with shoes). The building seemed to be in
mid-renovation, so the inside of the hall was a mixture of ornate
decoration and bare brick and plaster, and seemed like a very
appropriate venue, the back of the stage area painted with omega
symbols and the phrase "do this in remembrance of me" across what was
the entrance and exit to the stage; the ceilings were hung with red
and yellow symmetrical banners. 

The performance was introduced by the promoter to a full and quiet
room, and we were asked to switch off mobile phones, to please take
into account that the evening was being documented for CD and video,
so to leave only if necessary, and to do so between songs. Then the
door at the back of the stage opened, and The Rep emerged, along with
Matt Heyner (No-Neck, Sunburned) and Pete Nolan (from Magik Markers) -
they set up quietly (The Rap stage left, with music stand and lyric
book), and then lurched into the first song of a two hour set of
generally slow and heavy rocking, interspersed with a looser kind of
playing, a solid beat sometimes almost collapsing and the song seeming
like it might end, but then carrying on - at its 'straightest' it had
a slow loping groove held down by variations on circular bass riffs
and slow tom rolls, occasionally reminding me of the recording of the
Portland '06 performance, but in some ways this was even more
'inside': the overall band sound was very much ROCK. The Rep used his
black Godin electric guitar, and a distorted and reverbed guitar sound
throughout; Matt played 5 string electric bass (not sure if it was
fretless of not), and the bass and drums held the whole performance
together in quite a different way to the much freer Richard
Youngs-Alex Neilson combination I'd seen before - there was less
abstraction than I had seen before, but this gave the performance a
different character to any of the other live Jandek bands I was aware

I couldn't hear any of the lyrics from where I was, so it will have to
be someone else that can quote either the tone of the specifics of
what was being sung - but I became preoccupied with watching the
interplay between the players, and at points where it sounded like a
riff was losing the solidity it might have had, there was no
indication from any of the players that this was a problem, as if
everything that happened onstage had to happen, as if a process had
been set in motion, and now it had to unfold however - one of the
larger drum mics over Pete Nolan's kit kept tipping forward on its
stand, but apart from occasionally attempting to right it, it was not
visibily perceived as a problem, and even when Matt and Pete swapped
bass and drums for one song, Matt likewise left the mic resting on the
tom rather than try to change it.

The two hours seemed to pass quickly, and at the end of the show the
musicians returned through the back door, and back into the painted
backdrop - I could see one of the camera people from where I sat, and
he should have a great closing shot of The Rep disappearing between
the words "do this in remembrance of me"...

I couldn't possibly say whether the show was a 'success', but I felt
the same sense of occasion I've had from the other Jandek shows I've
been lucky enough to see, and also a formality, as if the performance
were a 'recital' of a kind - very different to Monday's show...


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