I first discovered The Jesus Lizard way back in 1996 when they opened for Rage Against the Machine at the Wallace Civic Center in Fitchburg, MA. My obsession came later (I wasn't ready for them at that point in my life) and truly peaked during their reunion tour in 2009. I had resigned myself to never see them again after that show. David Yow said as much, saying they'd only reunite if anyone paid them an obscene amount of money. Luckily Riot Fest apparently did that, and while ramping up for that festival they came through Boston last Friday night.
Seeing that it's been twenty years since their last album, and nine since their last tour, I have to begrudgingly admit this night was pure nostalgia. For a band that hasn't toured in nine years, they were mind blowingly tight. Yow repeatedly declared they were the best band in the world, and if you were there you would believe them. No matter how great they sounded or how many times Yow dove on top of the crowd, it took their fifth song, "Nub," before they truly got going. Maybe it was because that was the first song that inspired an audience crowdsurfer, but it just seemed to free up both the crowd and the band to truly get going. It was also the first time I've seen an audience member jump on stage and not be immediately dragged off since the 90's, so that added to the throwback appeal. Not to mention that there was no barricade between the crowd and the stage, which is a rarity for a loud rock show, especially at a fancy pants dance club with obscenely priced drinks.
It's easy to forget how great of a band The Jesus Lizard truly are. Just their first encore alone consisted of "Gladiator," "Blockbuster," "Lady Shoes," "Thumbscrews," and "Then Comes Dudley." How many other bands can string together five songs like that without depleting the rest of the show? Yow baited the crowd in the way only he can by turning lyrics into seeming nonsense and announcing things like "Thank you, Atlanta!" By the second encore, he dropped the stage persona and got sincere. Instead of wishing Tony a happy birthday for the hundredth time he wished a happy birthday to the late Billy Ruane. He also declared "It's kinda weird being old and doing this young kinda shit." For a man who's 58, he attacked that stage for 90 minutes in a way most bands half his age can barely muster. Please keep doing this young shit, David.
Side note for the 90's throwback theme: Back in college most shows were held at clubs that mainly held dance nights and weekend concerts would need to be done by 9:30-10:00. Back then I hated this, but in my 40s I was thrilled to be out of the door and in bed by 11:00.