Jesus Lizard, The: DVD

Aug 18, 2008

What do we have here? Early/mid-‘90s concert footage of the Kings of Dog Food Punk, The Jesus Lizard, and you don’t once get to see David Yow pull out his junk and tie it all up into a miniature manger scene? I’m not sure if I’m relieved or feel cheated. I mean this guy is the Jim Henson of penis puppetry. A real pioneer. Long before this kind of puppetry became fashionable "blue" entertainment for the swanky Theatre Crowd, Yow was slugging it out with his own flesh while writing the book on pudenda origami, creating beloved pubic-haired artwork like the famous "Tight and Shiny" and "Ronald Reagan Eating Plumbs." I guess it’s plausible that after so many years of stretching and pulling the shit out of your Joe Camel that it eventually wears out like the elastic band on a really old pair of underpants. I can’t really say; maybe Mr. Lifto might know something about that. But this footage was filmed back in Yow’s (and the band’s) prime. I witnessed him do it myself back then and it was something I someday hoped to tell my grandkids about. Obviously, when that day comes, this particular DVD will be of no help backing up my outlandish claims. Oh well.
On the bright side, what you do get here are a couple classic-era performances—the main one from Boston in ’94, the other from CBGB’s in ’92— from a band known to blast canisters of mayhem off in their audience’s faces on a nightly basis. When, as in these shows, Yow wasn’t playing Bert and Ernie with his dangly bits, he would launch himself with malicious disregard for life and limb like a meat salvo into the audience, oftentimes resulting in a bloody fracas. And the music was always gritty, demonic, tight, and angular. Kind of like the aural equivalent of having your face jammed into a pile of broken antlers, dog teeth, and shattered glass while some demented nutjob (aka: Yow) howled discordantly in the background. That, my children, was good stuff—and still is— penis puppetry or not. It was a heaving, inhuman nightmare that raked like steel wool through your brain and could, at anytime it wanted to, snap your ribs like pretzel sticks. Simply put, it was a good time to be alive and into antisocial music.
And now you, those too late out of the womb to have experienced it firsthand, can see it for yourself on this DVD. Now, presumably, so you youngins don’t have bad dreams about the scary man David Yow, they’ve included a somewhat tucked-away Hype TV interview with the frontman wherein he shows a more sedate, socially acceptable side of his personality. Whether this "Regular Joe" bit is an affectation or not, I don’t know, but the famous sociopath comes off as mild mannered and accommodating while disdainfully comparing Green Day to The Knack and expressing a desire to feed Billie Joe and the boys a knuckle sandwich or two. Good stuff all around. Longtime fans will find little here to be disappointed with—if you can get over the conspicuous absence of Yow’s "Hairy Tangerine," that is. But for you newbies: whether you missed The Jesus Lizard when they were still performing their ghastly musical exorcisms from town to town, or you just feel like having your tongue blown back down your throat and your spine rattled in an unholy way, this DVD is your chance. And for all we know, your last chance. Don’t miss it. And turn it up loud, dammit. –Aphid Peewit (MVD Visual, PO Box 280, Oaks, PA 19456,