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Let’s Get Physical: The Jesus Lizard plays a relentless set at a sold-out Union Transfer

The Jesus Lizard | photo by Josh Pelta-Heller for WXPN

“I CAN SWIM! I CAN’T SWIM! I CAN SWIM! I CAN’T SWIM!”

As he barked the chorus aloud, The Jesus Lizard grinding through a scorching rendition of “Seasick” to the delight of the evening’s attendants at the Union Transfer, vocalist David Yow was the body-surfing engine that could. A stage tech feeding the cord for his microphone into the crowd, Yow was passed along as far as he could go before making his journey back to the rest of his band. That night, it wasn’t the first time Yow found himself writhing atop a sea of roaming hands. It certainly wasn’t the last.

Saturday, September 8th, The Jesus Lizard, one of the most notorious rock bands of the 1990s, performed for a sold-out audience, tearing through reaction-inducing selections from their catalogue to grateful applause or enthusiastic physicality. The third night in a series of shows spurned by an invitation to this year’s Riot Fest, the band’s distinct mix of hostility and coarseness as intact as it ever was, the noise was terrific, the playing was solid, and the theater at hand was captivating to say the least. Continue reading →

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Out Of Hand: In conversation with The Jesus Lizard’s David Yow

The Jesus Lizard | photo by Joshua Black Wilkins | courtesy of the artist

“David, very nice to talk to you.”

“Oh, well, you say that now.”

When I think of the days of the so-called Alternative revolution, memories of a musical underground poised to take center stage after Nirvana’s major label colossus Nevermind finally cracked the very polished veneer of the 1980s, I remember being in a state of constant epiphany. Entering relevancy were bands that had been working tirelessly throughout the prior decade, stretching their music across the country via a self-made and self-sustaining network of venues, fanzines, and record stores, and the record labels that saw fit to produce their music. Around this time, The Jesus Lizard was one of the era’s most threatening rock bands.

The Jesus Lizard, whose origin can be traced back to Austin, Texas in 1987, were nihilism personified, a beautifully antagonistic and often vulgar foursome who, in their early days as artists for Touch and Go Records, earned the title of Best Live Band. Unfiltered, blistering, and energized, it was vocalist David Yow who matched every decibel that the other band members (guitarist Duane Denison, bassist David Wm. Sims, and drummer Mac McNeilly) could conjure with sweat and (likely) blood, his clothing-optional and confrontational style the stuff of legend. “Well, I like it when things get out of hand,” Yow explains. “I always hoped that things would get out of hand because it’s a lot more fun that way. I mean, pretty much for everybody except David and Duane. Other than maybe dressing up in a funny costume or something like that, I rarely if ever had a pre-conceived notion of what I was going to do other than just play the show.”

Following a successful run of performances last December, and an invitation to perform at this year’s Riot Fest in Chicago, The Jesus Lizard decided to hit the road again, adding eight more shows to the series — including one tonight at Union Transfer. Prior to December, the band hadn’t toured since 2009. Continue reading →