Monday, August 29, 2005

Jandek at the Scottish Rite Theatre, Austin TX, August 28, 2005.


Two drummers, one of whom was avant-jazz guy Chris Cogburn, and the other of whom looked 17. A young-looking bassist, too. And the man, the legend, the weirdo from all those album covers: Jandek.

Some of you may wonder: does Jandek tune his guitar? After tonight, I can say definitively that the answer is yes. Jandek does, in fact, know when his guitar is out of that god-forsaken tuning he loves so well and actually adjusted his B-string from somewhere south of plong to somewhere in the vacinity of doink.

He played for an hour and a half on the nose. After the last song, he held his guitar briefly, as if considering playing another song, then abruptly took the guitar off, put it in a case, and walked off stage.

Some of you may wonder: is Jandek a tech geek? After tonight, I can say definitively no. At one point, he accidentally hit the pickup configuration switch, changing his tone drastically, which confused him for several seconds before he decided that the new tone was a-ok with him.

This was easily the geekiest rock crowd I've ever seen. Outside, we looked like we were waiting in line for free 20-sided dice. The show was in the Scottish Rite Theatre, and we wondered through several ornate rooms, full of portraits of grumpy old men before reaching the theater. I half-suspected that we were being inducted into a fraudulent age-old conspiracy.

Some of you may wonder: does Jandek play guitar solos? After tonight, I can say definitively maybe, given a loose definition of "solo." Several times, Jandek played little picked leads that seemed as random as his chords. He seemed pleased with himself, and once even broke out into a Jandek-sized smile (i.e. tiny and secret).

What else? With two drummers, Jandek rocked the joint occasionally, stirring up music as loud and aggressive as any free jazz I've witnessed. He mostly watched the 17-yr-old drummer and the bassist, who looked to be in his early 20s, maybe. I suspect that they might be in the youth group in Jandek's apocalyptic cult. Or, as my friend suggested, perhaps they're his wards, like Robin. Jandek does have a rather Batmanish persona.

Chris Cogburn was doing the most interesting things on stage - sometimes getting high squawky noises by turning a cymbal sideways and running it up and down his drums, sometimes doing the avant-jazz standby of the superfast run through all the cymbals, changing drumsticks along the way - but it was hard to take your eyes off of Jandek. He exuded a strange blank menace, never looking at the audience at all, but somehow giving off a vibe somewhere between cult leader and serial killer. His lyrics were surprisingly trite at times, although quite a few of them had the creepy-but-beautiful old Jandek charm.

He occasionally fretted with his thumb. I mean, not just the low E, but all the way across, like Thurston Moore with a drumstick. Oh, I heard someone say that Thurston Moore was there, but I didn't see him (this has turned out to be a mishearing - what my friend said was that Thurston Moore should be there). One of the guys two rows up from me was in Jandek On Corwood, but it wasn't Douglas Wolk or Gary Pig Gold, so I don't know this guy's name.

There was a Jandek VIP section in front of us. In a more perfect world, it would have been filled with people no one had ever seen or heard of before. In this world, it was mostly filled with SXSW honchos.

Some of you may wonder: is an hour and a half of live Jandek exhausting? After tonight, I can say definitively that the answer is an unqualified yes.

Update: Joe Gross has his take on it here. Joe (who had the vantage point of sitting directly to my right) refers to the giant shadow and the introduction that I forgot to mention.

New update! The second drummer was Nick Hennies, who will be 26 in a couple of days. No word on the veracity of completely unsubstantiated rumor (created above and repeated nowhere else!) that he might be a member of Jandek's apocalyptic cult or, possibly, Jandek's young ward. Perhaps because they are stupid rumors!


Anonymous 4:14 PM, August 29, 2005  
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Anonymous 4:24 PM, August 29, 2005  
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Anonymous 4:28 PM, August 29, 2005  
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Hayden Childs 4:32 PM, August 29, 2005  

Christ on a crutch. Am I always going to get spam comments whenever I post something?

Chriswab 4:40 PM, August 29, 2005  

Hi I´m Chris. Great page !!! Greatings from Germany Bottrop !!

Anonymous 4:55 AM, August 30, 2005  

Thanks for the review.
Jandek world tour hits USA!

Anonymous 5:00 AM, August 30, 2005  

That last one was me; it switched to anonymous by mistake. Apologies.

The Haarbüschel 5:07 AM, August 30, 2005  

This is so cool. I whish I could have been there... Thanks for the review!

Hayden Childs 11:03 AM, August 30, 2005  

Thanks for dropping by!

Anonymous 12:54 AM, August 31, 2005  

excellent review! It was a great show and I was thrilled to be there. The pickup-switch moment was particularly was as if he never played an electric with a switch on it before...or perhaps he's simply unused to playing live and was nervous about anything that might take him out of the moment.

Hayden Childs 11:19 AM, August 31, 2005  

Thanks a bunch!

My best guess was that the pickup confusion was just unfamiliarity with playing live. I know I've done the same thing many, many times when playing out. Not that I have any clue what it must be like to occupy the man's skin.

wow power leveling 11:03 PM, January 31, 2009  
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
BrutusJones 12:48 PM, July 02, 2009  

I know it's 4 years after the fact, but I only kept some seats for my co-workers at SX because they helped in many ways to get the show together. "Honchos," pffft~~~ Yeah we're real power-mongerers. Not true, we're music freaks like you.

Bite me,

Hayden Childs 1:12 PM, July 02, 2009  

Oddly aggressive response to an offhand and four-year-old comment, let alone one that hardly seems worth your time, Honcho Man. Do you spend your days trolling the Internets looking for something to take personally, Craig?

No, YOU bite me,

Hayden Childs 1:16 PM, July 02, 2009  

Incidentally, I love your record label. If anyone reading this didn't click the link, it's here: Emperor Jones.

BrutusJones 2:11 PM, July 02, 2009  

No, I was just looking at Seth's Jandek site and realized I hadn't read many reviews of it.

You win, I just bit you. May Christ bless you.

Hayden Childs 2:25 PM, July 02, 2009  

Bitten and blessed, all in one day! Lucky me.

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