July 28, 2008

A Silver Mt. Jandek

(all photos were taken without a flash, because I felt it rude to take pictures with a flash, given the situation)

I got to the venue, The Bug Theater, about an hour before the performance was to start, mostly because I'm a geek like that, but also because this was the first time I'd ever been to the Bug Theater. The Bug Theater, my roommate Royce told me, used to be a movie theater, but now mainly hosts small theatrical productions, something that was confirmed by the barista/bartender/etc. who s working the concessions last Friday. According to the barista, the venue is one of those 100 year old venues, much like the Mayan, that has been basically everything over the last few years. I could not have thought of a better place to see Jandek perform.

As I approached the Bug, I ran into Warren and Sean, two of the Rhinoceropolis crew, sitting outside. I talked to them a little bit and found out that the whole thing was, in part, set up by Warren, who was contacted by the author of Jandek's fictional biography, Danen D. Jobe, who asked Warren if he wanted to set up a Jandek show in Denver. Warren jumped on the opportunity and, thanks to him, the Rhinoceropolis crew, and various other friends, Jandek was able to play Denver.

After a few last minute sounds checks, people were allowed to pick a seat. Being the person I am, I went straight up and sat front row, center. A couple, Brent and Jillian, sat down next to me, and for the next half an hour or so we talked about just about everything. Truthfully, one of the more exciting aspects of going to a Jandek show, for me, was the chance to run into other weirdo's who actually enjoy Jandek's music. Jandek fans are few and far between, so to have all of them in the tri-state area gather in one building (I actually have no idea how far the majority of the audience traveled to get there, I'm just being peculiar), well that's just unexpected. Anyway, Brent and Jillian (musicians, naturally) were probably the sweetest people to have sat next to, regardless of the context.

The room filled in quite a bit, and a representative from the theater came on and announced we'd have to wait a little longer. I'm certain no one minded. No one was going anywhere soon. A few more minutes passed, and then the lights began to dim, leaving the dull, ominous blue lights to illuminate the room. Warren stood in the back of the stage messing around on an Apple, which was the only thing I could focus on, because there was nothing else going on, save for the rising tension that seemed to be filling the space. Once or twice I spotted the man who was recording the concert (both audio and video I assume) check his cameras by the stage.

Finally, the band came out, followed by the Muse himself. The band was composed of Brittany Gould (ex-Mannequin Makeout, Married in Berdichev!, Caldera Lakes), Karl ???, Andrew Lindstrom (Nightshark), and Kevin ??? (Temples). Brittany did vocal ambiance (along the lines of Married in Berdichev!, but less "wall of noise"), Andrew did what he does best and took up the drumming aspect of the show, and Kevin played rhythm guitar. Karl had about 6 guitars (one of which acoustic), a bass, and about 8 pedals. Karl ended up using only 2 or 3 of the guitars, and frequently used the bass, making me think that the set was still pretty improvisational. Our man Jandek used a black, 4 string bass for the entire show, occasionally singing.

Everyone went to their spots, picked up their things, and looked at Jandek, who was slowly walking toward the music stand and microphone positioned stage right. His eyes, previously squinting, opened wide, showing a deep, dark eyes full of life, as he placed a spiral green notebook on the music stand, turned two pages, picked up his bass, and faced the band. There was about 40 seconds of silence. No one moved. Then, the ghostly figure, draped in a baggy, dark purple button up shirt and smooth black pants, nodded his head, which was adorned with the now notorious black hat of his, at Andrew, and the set began.

No one, save for those who were able to sit in for the rehearsal that had happened all day, had much of an idea as to what they should expect. Every Jandek performance had been drastically different from the last, so we had little to go on. The first song set the tempo for the night, in a sense. It was jarring and awkward and ethereal and simply all over the place. Jandek moaned his first lyrics of the night, and I knew I was in store for something very special indeed. It lasted for about 15 minutes, after which I'm told quite a few people decided they'd seen enough, and left.

The next song started out in true Jandek style, bluesy and peculiar, but then floated back into the theme of the evening, which seemed to be that of spacey, ethereal, nightmarish avant-garde folk.

From there the songs will have to speak for themselves, because I've rambled on too long as it is. Everyone who performed that night as a part of Jandek was absolutely stellar. Brittany reminded me at times of the Little Mermaid as she sang her voice away to be with the one she loved, Andrew reminded me of the 6 armed alien that he frequently reminds me of (he's just a damn good drummer), and, this being the first time I'd ever seen Karl and Kevin perform, I don't have much to compare it to, but I do have to say they were damn good as well. I equate this evening with what it must be like to go to the symphony. (Thus, the title of the blog, being a reference to the post-rock band A Silver Mt. Zion).

Other things of note that occurred: At two points a disco ball came on the first time only for a few seconds, and the second time for almost an entire song. Andrew Lindstrom had the best look on his face each time this happened :). Andrew was also doing some very peculiar things with his drum set, such as making his hi-tom reverberate in an awkward way simply by rubbing his saliva covered fingers on it (this can be heard during the beginning of song 3). He also used a stand-up bass bow on a china cymbal. Probably the strangest thing about the evening was that Jandek never turned his page on his notebook, though his lively eyes proved that he was using it for something (okay, admittedly, he may have turned the page once, my memory is a little fuzzy on that one).

Here it is, the recordings from the show (which actually turned out pretty well):

(side note: I'm not the biggest Jandek expert on the planet, so I have no idea what the names of the songs are that he performed. I'm certain that at some point a set list will surface, but until that day, this is what we've got.)

(also: If you want higher quality versions of the set, visit the Archive.org site where I uploaded the files)

Band: Jandek
Date: 2008-07-25
Venue: The Bug Theater, Denver, CO

Intro (I left in the silence between the applause and the beginning of the first song to show what it was like to sit there in silence, tension rising)
Untitled 1
Untitled 2
Untitled 3
Untitled 4
Untitled 5
Untitled 6
Untitled 7
Untitled 8

For those of you who may have missed the show, or for those of you who left after/during the first song, I recommend downloading some of the other songs and giving them a shot, because they're not nearly as jarring as the first song.


charlie m. said...

I was at that show as well and it was fantastic, if you were in the first row I was a row or two behind you (I think I was third row).

none of my flashless pics turned out at all and I didn't attempt more than twice..but your review is quite good.

I think I saw Jandek turn pages a few times though

Dodecahedron said...

Would you mind reuploading the MP3s please? :)

Luke Hunter James-Erickson said...

King: yeah, give me a couple days though, I've got a busy weekend :)

Luke Hunter James-Erickson said...

King: Re-upped!

Dodecahedron said...

Thanks a ton! Tracks 4 + 8 aren't working though.