The Jesus Lizard: Live last night

the jesus lizardThe Jesus Lizard, in earlier days. The band -- if not the crowd -- brought it just as hard Thursday at 9:30 club.

Live Last Night

By David Malitz

Maybe this current run of concerts by '90s hell-raisers the Jesus Lizard isn't simply the latest in a long-string of alt-rock reunions that have overrun the concert landscape the past few years. Maybe it's just that after 10 years of full-contact, sweat-and-blood-stained shows that rightly earned the band a spot in the Best Live Act pantheon, the four dudes simply needed a decade off to catch their breath before resuming their bone-crushing ways.

If so, it worked. Thursday night's show at 9:30 club was as good an argument you'll find in favor of turning back the rock clock. Through sludgy power chords and a barrel-chested rhythmic brutality there was a sinister, sonic clarity that rang through the band's songs. And even at 49-years-old (and looking every bit of it) frontman David Yow remains in a class by himself, prowling the stage and swimming his way through the crowd, dangerous and deranged, the way rock-and-roll should be and so rarely is today.

(Well, not EXACTLY everything one could have hoped for...)

The band came ready to destroy, but the audience was more content to simply observe. This is standard practice in D.C. and it's hard to blame the mostly 30-somethings in attendance for not feeling the need to slam into each other on a rainy Thursday night in a half-filled club. But much of the intensity of the Jesus Lizard's live show comes directly from how out-of-control the audience is.

Video from a recent Boston concert shows Yow diving face first into the crowd mere seconds into opening number "Puss." Thursday in D.C. he more dipped his toes in the water to gauge the temperature before easing his way into the shallow sea of people. The Yow Crowdsurfing Clock checked in (unofficially, of course) at a mere 3:38 Thursday, almost certainly the lowest number on this tour. It was akin to everyone showing up for a party but nobody bringing beer in the hopes that somebody else would.

But a lack of physical exertion from the crowd couldn't make the music coming from the stage any less fierce. It was no-frills, no gimmicks and no mercy. All of the trends present in current indie rock, whether it's slapdash lo-fi rumble or elaborate orchestration, seemed quaint while watching these four guys in their 40s on the attack.

Yow, the hair on his chest thicker than the stuff on his head, still howled his lyrics like a guy whose mouth just got shot full of novocaine and is simultaneously going through an especially violent exorcism. Guitarist Duane Dennison and bassist David Wm. Sims were the visual opposites, clean-cut guys who seemed to be hiding some dark, depraved secrets. And drummer Mac McNeilly closed the main set with a thunderous drum solo, which could be classified as "mostly unnecessary," the highest honor possibly bestowed upon a drum solo.

By David Malitz |  November 20, 2009; 4:45 PM ET Live Last Night
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We saw the Jesus Lizard at the Fun Fun Fun Fest and Yow was in top form. He paced the stage like a caged animal and dove head first into the crowd just like the Boston show. That set the tone for what was one of the rowdier shows I've seen. It was crazier than Danzig the following night but not as nuts as the Gorilla Biscuits set.

Posted by: DanCorbin | November 20, 2009 7:31 PM

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