Jandek: Ann Arbor Saturday (Corwood Industries, 2021)

September 16, 2021 at 6:53 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Jandek: Ann Arbor Saturday

In 2008, WCBN’s staff invited Jandek to play a free concert at the Lydia Mendelssohn Theatre. Sadly, I moved to Ann Arbor the year after, so I missed out on this event, but I saw him at SXSW a few years earlier (and that show has recently been released), and later saw him in Detroit, doing a surprisingly fun set at El Club (and I narrowly avoided a car accident driving home). From what I’ve heard, most of the audience walked out almost immediately once this set began, and it’s easy to hear why, regardless of whether the audience members knew anything about Jandek or not. This is decidedly a bleak set, with The Rep coming in after about five minutes of fretless bass meandering, trumpet wailing, and harpsichord, then declaring himself to be a piece of trash and saying that if everyone died, it would all be the same. He also references his own Telegraph Melts album, and talks about a creepy crawly nightmare man, asking “why doesn’t he go away?” The set was recorded in May but it would’ve made a perfect Halloween event. Even creepier, later on in the first track, he says “I must’ve gotten eaten away, it must’ve been some nasty virus”, then later moans about being put out of his misery. Sincerely hope this guy’s been vaccinated. “Why” is a bit more surreal, mentioning a yogi and then finding the narrator in London, only he’s drowning himself in sorrow and lamenting “this stupid life”. On “Loud Silence”, he wails “It’s not about anything, youuuu just got bambooooozled into thinking there was something”, basically answering his own critics once and for all. Biba Bell, the interpretive dancer during the concert, contributes some wordless caterwauling during a few intervals. “Being a Body” has a brief Jason Molina-esque moment, which actually seems like the most optimistic point of the funereal dirge. “The Conflagration” has some brash harpsichord thwacking and somewhat more hopeful lyrics: “Okay, okay, it can’t be that bad, there’s still eating and drinking and sleeping and waking”. The only reason for living is doing everyday things, basically. Food tastes good right? Just do the things you like doing, there’s no need to worry about anything else.

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