04
Feb
09

Led Zeus Shit Jar, ATP ’09: Too Big To Fail

Take the name of Chicago perv-rock legends The Jesus Lizard.  Scramble up the letters.  Scramble ’em good.  What do you get?  Zest Jihad RulesJeez, Radish SlutHertz Used Jails.  And, of course, Led Zeus Shit Jar, which is a name TJL played under for one secret show at Czar Bar in ’91 or so.

Why the logophilic reminiscence, you ask?  Well gee, William Fuckin’ Buckley, it’s because the almighty Lizard — broken up lo these many years — is signed on with original members to play an alleged 30 shows this year, including All Tomorrow’s Parties in the UK.  This calls for commentary.

Where do I even begin?  First of all, there’s this: TJL’s Bass Officer David Wm. Sims, Chicago’s raised-bet answer to The Stranglers’ JJ Burnel and The Birthday Patry’s Tracy Pew, provider of monstrous, gulping low frequencies in the late lamented outfits Rapeman and Scratch Acid — has been blogging. Too Big To Fail, he calls his effort, and  for all we know, this fine bit of WordPressery may indeed be the result of the Federal Reserve bloating Mr. Sims’ institution with freshly minted greenbacks by the trailerload — it’s not as if they’re keeping any records over there.   But more likely, TBTF is simply another enjoyable expression of the aggro-musician-with-great-taste phenomenon Chicagoans are appreciated for – even when they come from Texas and live today in NYC.  Several thumbs up.

Then there’s these upcoming Jesus Lizard shows.   The first time I saw this essential band was at Edge Of The Looking Glass in…I dunno, 1990?  (Singer David) Yow was wearing a suit and had a huge sponge soaked with what appeared to be ink and kept sqooshing it over his head – when he wasn’t delivering interperative-dance moves akin to a woozy Bob Fosse.  I knew the Davids from Scratch Acid, but had never before seen and been blown away by the full combo.  The diamond-sharp blare of Duane Denison and the sideways artillery of Mac McNeilly just made me want to quit music, because they had solved it. I saw ’em with Slint.  I saw ’em out of state. I saw ’em a lot of times, and every time was a joy.  Yes, I’m going to some of these shows.

And then there’s this, a world-colliding (well, at least to me) double bill with Devo and The Jesus Lizard at All Tomorrow’s Parties.  I guess now is the time to tell this one:

Around nine years ago, I worked at a record label/recording studio.  I had a little latitude and was able to chase down a dream project – as a producer of sorts. So I went for it.

I had heard through mutual friends that one of my biggest musical mentors, Devo’s bassist Gerald V. Casale, was beginning to work on a solo record and had need of a drummer.  I heard some tapes and they were cool.  At the time, TJL’s Mac McNeilly was no longer with the band, so I figured I’d see if he was interested in maybe working with Gerry on his record at this studio.  Amazingly, Mac was into the idea.  I sent Gerry copies of Goat and Head. Then, even more amazingly, Gerry was into the idea.  Or at least that’s what it seemed like, because he was super-appreciative of the Macness.   The tapes I heard were grinding, raw and great, but…it turned out that Gerry saw all that as a problem to be overcome.  He kept talking about scrubbing away all the dirt and making the record to a click track and laying the drums in last…which, I’m sorry to say, is a great way to make a shiny, quantized and very “L.A.”  record.  — and no way to waste the wind tunnel of Hurricane Mac.  So it didn’t happen. Boo hoo.

But now – TJL and Devo on the same bill? Yes, please.  In the words of Tina Fey: “I want to go to there.”

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3 Responses to “Led Zeus Shit Jar, ATP ’09: Too Big To Fail”


  1. February 4, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Holy stinkfist! This cannot/must be happening! I am stunned.That show will be warped and evil. In short, a good time had by all.

  2. February 28, 2009 at 7:18 pm

    Rob – The Czar Bar show was 3/27/92 to be exact. I assume if you’re referencing it, you were there too? I have a few really shitty pictures from the show. (Made all the more shitty by a flooded Wicker Park basement way back when that damaged lots of old photos and negatives.)

    I’m trying to figure out if I can swing flying across the pond in May to see ’em. Certainly will make more than one in the contiguous 48 states.

    Dan


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