Perfect Sound Forever


Photo by Brooklyn Vegan
Left to right: bassist Matt Heyner, drummer Chris Corsano, Jandek

Open Season on Jandek
Live in Brooklyn, the Issue Room, Sept 7, 2005

We sent two of our intrepid, snarky reporters, Cathy O'Lay and Billy Bob Hargus, to cover Jandek's 2nd New York gig. The occasion also happened to be Ms. O'Lay's birthday as it turns out. Through much (too) clever descriptive language, they continuously invoke the name of Jandek chronicler/non-fan Irwin Chusid (whose quote begins this piece). This was all done through the magic of text messaging... on a notepad.

COL: "Awful, just awful." That was one review I heard of a Jandek show. Well, it was only Jandek's 3rd or 4th live show ever, so he was obviously new to it all.

This was his 6th show EVER! History was being made! What better way to spend my birthday? DON'T LAUGH! "How do we know it's him?" my guy wondered. I could not believe there were so many Jandek fans in one room.

Jandek was supposed to play N.O. (Orleans)- you know what happened there. (He) comes up from a hatch under the stairs for his NY show. J is dressed in black- looks gaunt, like death. Clanging guitar and tuneless vocal atop a sturdy rhythm section. Did Jandek ever figure out how to tune his guitar? Foggy voice: unintelligible lyrics.

BBH: Doesn't play bar chords, does a perverted E chord sliding up and down guitar neck.

COL: Can Jandek even tune his guitar? Irwin Chusid said that Jandek sounds like Velvet Underground after taxes. Why slight VU??

BBH: Looks like a younger Tom Waits.

COL: What is he singing about? I can't decipher the lyrics. Where'd they hire this rhythm section? Their job is to maintain some semblance of normal playing while Jandek clunks and moans and drones.

BBH: Trout Mask Replica on Quaaludes. PiL played at 18 rpm. Indie lo-fi goth.

COL: Tom Waits on cough syrup and tequila. THIS IS WORSE THAN (IAN) MACKAYE'S DUMB SIDE BAND! Imagine a Jandek ringtone.

BBH: Believe it or not, he's not totally out of tune or tone deaf.

COL: This is like saying Bush is not totally incompetent. How long does this last?

BBH: 1 hour. Makes Half Japanese sound like the Backstreet Boys.

COL: There is "outsider" music and there's this. Sounds like Jim Morrison on Nyquil!

BBH: Wonder if they had rehearsals?

COL: I am sure the rhythm section did... The Shaggs/Jandek- collaboration of the century.

BBH: "I got the blues for you, baby..." Who's he addressing that to? His shrink or his guitar tuner?

COL: Does he even have a guitar tuner?

BBH: Maybe not.

COL: I can't make out what he's singing. Applause? No stage banter. The songs sound alike... Now a song that sounds like Led Zeppelin if they never practiced a day in their lives... Three songs so far? 4 songs??

BBH: Sub-punk industrial noise. We asked for it but is this what we really wanted?

COL: Is this a guitar solo or a siren? Math rock by dyslexics?

BBH: Well, I promised you a memorable show!

COL: How did he hire this rhythm section? For my next birthday, please take me to a Mudhoney show. PLEASE!

BBH: I'll see what I can do.

COL: Heck, even a Shaggs reunion!

BBH: He's using a music stand. Doesn't that prove he's an artist?

COL: Maybe it means he needs help remembering the words.

BBH: What words?

COL: "Ummm... moon moon sun... blues... babble and moan..." THOSE words.

BBH: Those are like... lyrics or something.

COL: Okay... this is supposed to be a ballad... The drummer uses brushes and there are references to wanderlust and leaves...

BBH: It's supposed to be sad- it is! He's sad.

COL: This is a short song... wow.

BBH: He's warming up to his 20-minute disco remix!

COL: Oh, baby. Can't wait. This is his BLOOZ number, yes?

BBH: Yep, sounds like it though I'm sure that Howlin' Wolf couldn't figure him out.

COL: This is electric blooz if the electric blooz artists drank a lot of alcohol after electroshock treatment. So...what'll you tell Chusid?

BBH: I'll say, "Irwin, it was a memorable show in a lot of ways, but Coldplay are better entertainers!"

COL: Coldplay and Jandek in the same sentence?

BBH: I saw them within 24 hours of each other. Strange...I don't see anyone who was at the Garden last night...

COL: What is Jandek singing about anyway?

BBH: What isn't he singing about? COL "Babble babble moooooooaaaaan." But he has no merch table! Damn!


COL: Well the rhythm section knows what it is doing.

BBH: He should listen to them.

COL: Well, this is Ash Ra Tempel on crack...

BBH: That'd be a good name for a band. What would your mom say about this?

COL: My mom would have her ears plugged...Yay! Jandek stopped playing guitar! Oooops--spoke too soon!

BBH: My mom would say, "Is that considered music?" My dad would have said much worse.

COL: Andrew (col's brother) would prolly approve...

COL: So is this music... isn't this nearly over?

BBH: Yes, but is it music?

Seth Tisue adds: "Perhaps there's no way to clarify this in the context of a piece that's a transcript of on-the-spot remarks rather than an after-the-fact review, but if the lyrics in Brooklyn were hard to understand, it was the fault of the room and/or the sound person, not the fault or the intent of Jandek. Every other Jandek show that I've heard, either in person or on tape, had clearly audible, well-enunciated lyrics that the audience was clearly intended to be able to decipher."

See the rest of the Jandek tribute

Album/CD reviews of all Jandek product Jandek live in Austin review
Jandek live in NYC review Interview with Loren Connors about Jandek

Check out the rest of PERFECT SOUND FOREVER