Released by: MVD Visual
Released on: August 23, 2011
Director: Matthew Robison
Cast: The Jesus Lizard
Purchase From Amazon
The Jesus Lizard had a pretty good run. They formed in 1987 and made it until 1999 before breaking up and while they never got as big as they probably deserved to be, they earned the solid cult following that they did find over the years. While the band got back together for a brief stint in 2008 to play a few shows that took them into 2009, after which they said that they were more or less done. Thankfully there was a camera crew around for a date that took place on July 14, 2009 at a club called Exit/In in Nashville, Tennessee. The line-up for this show won’t surprise anyone familiar with the band – it’s made up of David Yow on vocals, Duane Denison on guitar, Mac McNeilly on drums and David Sims on bass.
So yeah, the Nashville show, here it is on DVD. What’s the deal? The deal is, this is a pretty great performance. Like much of the band’s actual music it builds a little slowly at first but soon hits its stride and before you know it, Yow is spending more time on top of the crowd or in the crowd than in front of it. The audience is into it with complete dedication from the opening strains of Puss through to the finale, Wheelchair Epidemic. The band sounds tight, their playing showing off their experience and musicality nicely without resorting to hokey showmanship and instead letting the music speak for them. Yow engages the crowd now and then but the rest of the band stay fairly quiet, focusing on the task at hand and completely delivering.
The energy here is a very important factor in making this disc as enjoyable as it is. The camera work does a good job of not only capturing the bands enigmatic and seemingly fearless frontman as he almost antagonizes the crowd at times but also in capturing the rest of the band. Yes, Yow gets more screen time than the other three as he’s just more interesting to watch but Denison, clad in his requisite cowboy shirt, is given some time to shine here as is Sims, the two playing off of one another as much as they are off of Yow. McNeilly keeps time with an impressive amount of precision, never missing a beat and looking unusually happy behind his sparkly silver kit, standing in contrast to the band’s usually dark and brooding sound.
The full set list for this performance is:
Puss / Seasick / Boilermaker / Gladiator / Destroy Before Reading / Mouthbreather / Blue Shot / Glamorous / Killer McHann / One Evening / Then Comes Dudley / Chrome / Nub / Blockbuster / Monkey Trick / 7 vs. 8 / Thumbscrews / Fly On The Wall / My Own Urine / Dancing Naked Ladies / Bloody Mary / Wheelchair Epidemic
If they band don’t ever play again, well, they’ve paid their dues and no one could blame them but this stands as proof positive that they still absolutely have what it takes. Yow still sounds like a torture victim, freaking out over a three piece band that sounds more like a singular pounding, rhythmic machine than three separate instruments but that sound, that trademark Jesus Lizard sound, has lost none of its power or hypnotic sway over the years.
The show looks to have been shot on digital video and the 1.33.1 fullframe image is decent enough, though it’s interlaced and like many concert videos there are times where the stage lighting wreaks havoc with the detail. Some minor compression artifacts are visible here and there but overall, this is perfectly watchable with decent colors. The camera moves around a lot when it switches from the other band members to Yow, which is often, so we get a bit of motion blurring but most will be pretty happy with the visuals here all things considered.
More impressive than the look of the production is the sound, as the Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound mix on this disc is pretty great. Bass is nice and tight, not sludgy but well pronounced while Denison’s instantly recognizable guitar sound has that weird eerie quality to it that the band’s fans will know and love. Drums have got some nice punch to them and Yow’s vocals are clear. Most of the rear channel action is relegated to crowd reaction and this is a fairly front heavy mix for a 5.1 track, but it sounds very good. Understandably there are no alternate audio options or subtitles provided.
Those hoping for some interviews will be disappointed as all that’s on the DVD aside from a menu and chapter selection is a still gallery. That said, if you put the disc in your DVD-Rom drive, you can access the audio portion of the concert via some well encoded MP3s – a nice touch. There’s also an insert inside the case that contains a cool fold out picture and credits for the DVD and the concert.
The Final Word:
More extras would have probably made some people happy and the video quality won’t blow you away but this disc sounds very good and the performance itself is as intense and freaked out as you’d expect from the band. To sum it all up? Awesome.