If you pay much attention at all to music 'round these parts, then yeah, you probably already know what went down at the recent (and first) Jandek show here in his own stomping grounds. The enigmatic "outsider music" icon showed up and got on the Rudyard's stage with two session musicians who were obviously talented guys but had no freaking idea what they were getting involved in...and the trio proceeded to play what amounted to one big-ass extended funk jam. The hell? (If you haven't seen it, btw, click here; thanks to the Breakfast On Tour folks for posting the video...)
And oh, the reaction came swift. A number of folks seemed downright angry, feeling like they'd been lied to all this time by writers and fans and whatnot about how amazingly awesome Jandek is (was?) -- what the hell happened to this experimental-music god, that he blew his first-ever Houston show on a tepid (sorry, but it's true, although I'll get to my own take on it soon) bit of funk time-wastage? The guy, they decided, was obviously a fraud who'd managed to pull one over on the haughty indie-noise crowd.
Another camp, however, seemed to find the whole thing hysterically funny. They danced at the show, made asses of themselves gettin' down, and turned what could've been a total trainwreck into a real-live par-tay event. They realized that if part of your entire deal is to fuck with people's perceptions of you -- and seriously, if you refer to yourself as "an employee of Corwood" for the entirety of your musical career, then yes, you very definitely do enjoy fucking with people. And the folks on this side of the divide enjoyed "The New Jandek" just as much as they would've the "old," intense, minimalist Jandek, because they let themselves be in on the joke.
Can you tell which camp I fall into? While I couldn't make it to the Jandek Funk-Fest Extravaganza and would hardly call myself a Jandek "fan," I respect the man immensely. And I think it's awesome to see somebody who's got this entire persona as a "Super Serious Experimental Musician," who the whole world thinks is essentially some kind of auditory savant with no life or personality beyond what he scrapes out on his guitar and moans into a microphone, demonstrate that yes, he does have a sense of humor, a non-serious side, and a need for fun.
Because let's face it: Jandek records are not about fun, in any sense of the word. Even taking into account the "it makes a lot more sense if you're stoned" argument, still, a trip while listening to Jandek sure seems to me like it wouldn't be real pleasant. So c'mon, people -- let the guy live a little. Welcome to the breaking-down of an unapproachable hero, and enjoy watching him emerge, snail-like, from his meticulously-crafted shell.
And now, damn, I've managed to totally and completely forget what the hell I was talking about when I started typing; end Rant, commence Information. If you, like me, missed Jandek's first step into the local spotlight, hey, you're in luck, because he's playing tomorrow, Sunday, May 3rd, over at DiverseWorks. It's an oddly-arranged show, in that I think openers MV + EE were booked first, then agreed to open for The Man himself, but it promises to be intriguing, at the very least.
MV + EE (aka Matt Valentine & Erica Elder), for their part, are well worth seeing on their own; they're strange, too, albeit in a more freak-folk direction than the J-man himself. Sometimes-delicate, sometimes-rough guitars, psych-rock song structures, and wispy, '60s-ish vocals all make for some interesting stuff.
Doors open at 6PM, show starts at 7PM, so get there early. And seeing as this is likely to be a sold-out deal (if the Rudz gig was any indication, at any rate), I'd get your tickets ($12) in advance from DiverseWorks -- it'd suck to show up & be turned away, right?
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