Teenage Jesus and the Jerks: Live Review

Outside the Knitting Factory on Friday, June 13th, I talked with a woman who went to see Teenage Jesus and the Jerks in their heyday and had not bought a ticket for the one-night reunion, thinking she could walk right in.  She was shocked to find the show was sold out and remarked that they had more fans now then they ever had in their heyday.  

And the fans were not disappointed.  There is no midlife crisis for Teenage Jesus.  Time has not watered down Lydia Lunch.  For the one-night reunion of Teenage Jesus and the Jerks, her slide guitar still sounds like scraping metal, she sings with even more venom (she doesn’t even attempt to sing anymore, she just belts out the words, which suits the lyrics (Sample from “The Closet”: I can’t talk/I can’t enunciate/And I’m treated like Sharon Tate)), and she continually insults the audience  (She seemed very nice when I got her autograph, which you would never know when she yelled “Don’t expect a f******g encore, when are you gonna learn less is more!”).  

Thurston Moore filled in on bass, looking scared out of his mind by Lunch, as did the drummer, Jim Sclavunos, who hits the drums with such force he could be smashing heads (and he is smashing eardrums).  Lunch enjoys pressuring her bandmates; at the start of their song “Orphans”,  she waited a minute or so before playing while Thurston Moore played the one-note bass line and looked increasingly uncomfortable.  The best song of the night could have been the first; after a wave of painful feedback, they started into the 30-second rip of “Red Alert”, which they played loud and fast enough to kill a horse.  

The opening band, Information, was kind of a cross between Robin Crutchfield-era DNA (repetitive amelodic keyboard lines) and Sonic Youth guitars (strangely tuned, ringing).  However, except for one song when the instruments fit together to make a sound like an engine, they can’t wrangle as interesting textures out of their instruments as their peers Mars could (Listen to “Scorn” from the Mars EP, which could be a recording from Hiroshima). I wish DNA could have opened for Teenage Jesus (Sumner Crane and Nancy Arlen died in 2003 and 2006, respectively, dashing any hope for a Mars reunion, and the Knitting Factory was so crowded that if James Chance had performed, half the audience would be trampled if he tried to bite someone), as it would be nice to see if Arto Lindsay can still play skronk after several pleasant but decidedly not noisy records.

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One Response to “Teenage Jesus and the Jerks: Live Review”

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