The Jesus Lizard – DVD
Music Video Distributors
It was a low period in what I’d refer to as standard punk rock back in the late 1980s/early 199o’s. Most of the bands I spent my teenage years listening to either radically changed their sound, broke up or went metal (and thus they typically sucked). The “new” punk bands were these cookie cutter “youth crew” bands that were of absolutely zero interest to me. I spent those years discovering other genres of music and a sort of new punk rock was born in the guise of noisy indie rock bands. Labels like Sub Pop, Amphetamine Reptile and Touch and Go were putting out some pretty great records back then and a new scene was born. One of the best bands from that era was born out of the ashes of an old-school punk rock band called Scratch Acid and the band I’m referring to is The Jesus Lizard.
The Jesus Lizard were nearly every bit as unconventional as Scratch Acid but in a different way. No one sounded like them. They put out a handful of really good, powerful, noisy records and toured relentlessly. The shows were often chaotic and full of energy as wild front man, David Yow, flailed about the stage while wailing into his microphone. He’d often sweat, sometimes bleed, and always ended up in the crowd throughout the shows; usually surfing on top of them. They’d seldom play much longer than 45 minutes but they didn’t need to, that was all the time required to deliver the goods. Eventually they put out a major label release, left their home of Touch and Go Records, and sort of fizzled out as their records became less and less inspiring.
This DVD features a live show recorded at the tail end of the era I consider their prime in 1994. The show was filmed in Boston for a cable TV show on two cameras. The band were loud and pretty full on energy and this is a very good document of what it was like to see a typical Jesus Lizard show back then. David Yow howls, growls, wails, and sails through the crowd throughout the show while being backed by a loud and powerful band, showing off their craft as they belt out their unique style of music. The last time I probably saw the band was on this tour, and it was really a nice little trip back through time watching this live footage.
The video is full frame and the picture quality is mostly very good. There are times of graininess during scenes of especially low light but for the time period it seems they used some pretty good equipment. The audio comes in two flavors; stereo and 5.1 surround. The 5.1 track sounds a bit thin, I preferred the stereo track. Overall the audio quality is quite clear, though lacking a bit on the low end. The main feature runs about 45 minutes for the live show and is followed by a 10 minutes or so of interview footage shot at the same show. As a bonus there is a 10 minute live set from CBGB’s recorded by Merle Allin (GG’s brother). That footage is single camera and not nearly as good quality as the main feature but was still pretty neat to see. This makes the total running time of the DVD about 65 minutes.
As a one time large fan of The Jesus Lizard, I was pretty excited to see this DVD come out as a memento from a time long past. It is nice to see that some stuff from this era of independent music is finally starting to get some retrospective documents. Hopefully this will be the beginning of a trend. If you are/were a fan of this band in their prime, it’s probably worth your time to add this to your collection.
No wonder I like JL so much I never knew it was former scratch acid who I also loved.
I saw them the following year and they were pretty amazing live. They were certainly different than anyone else at the time despite the eclecticism in the music scene.
Greatest live shows ever. Their philosophy was that they could go into some crazy, odd-timed jazzy shit but nobody with come along for the ride. I was along for a few of the rides and they were spectacular.