Influential and celebrated noise rock band The Jesus Lizard performed a sold-out show at The Independent in San Francisco this past Friday, December 15th. Formed in 1987, the Chicago-based The Jesus Lizard were inactive for nearly eight years, with Friday’s performance being one of just a handful of dates on a brief reunion tour hitting North America.
Despite closing in on sixty years of age, The Jesus Lizard’s vocalist David Yow exploded with energy, diving into the audience mere seconds after the band hit the stage. Nearly an hour and a half of songs covering the band’s discography were performed, with Yow spending at least a third of his time crowd-surfing or otherwise enveloped by the moshing audience. Yow quickly became sweaty and disheveled, but the pace of his preacher-like shouting and frantic movement rarely let up unless the songs demanded it.
Drummer Mac McNeilly operated like an angry machine, attacking his kit in a crazed fervor, continuing to provide a beat even when the rest of the band briefly left the stage. Guitarist Duane Denison provided a stability and focus on his shredding that contrasted with Yow’s frantic movement, and bassist David Wm. Sims’s throbbing basslines and understated sense of humor tied together the performance.
After shooting about 70 shows this year, I can say The Jesus Lizard’s performance easily ranked in the top three experiences I’ve had, even though I’m not incredibly familiar with their back catalog. If they do another series of performances, I would heartily encourage anyone with even a passing interest in noise rock, punk or post-punk take the opportunity to see them live.