Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Jesus Lizard V's Sunn O))) V's Men Without Pants @ Villette Sonique, Paris

Villette Sonique 2009

Villette Sonique is an annual music event in Paris aimed showcasing new and old Rock, Pop and Electro artists ... this blurb is from their website

Will Future in music pass by a return to primitive instincts? These days, everybody speaks about tribalism, tropicalism and the new sound sensations quest. Villette Sonique 2009 takes place right in this mutation with a line up out of the usual musical boundaries. Following a breathtaking 2008 edition with rare bands performing amazing concerts (Devo, Shellac, Throbbing Gristle), this year’s leitmotiv is an unstoppable metronome.

We caught the opening night in the Grand Halle which was a bit of a rock all-sorts evening.

Men Without Pants at Villette Sonique

Men Without Pants were playing as we arrived, purported to be a "supergroup" composed of Dan The Automater (Gorillaz) and Russel Simmins (Jon Spencer Blues Explosion).

The live band only featured Russel Simmins. I love JSBX, they are a favourite live experience (especially when Jon Spencer is on fire with his "Elvis meets Jerry Lee via the bastard soul of a satanically possessed southern preacher man" persona) but Men Without Pants had none of that attitude. Simmins is a great drummer, but there were only a few interesting songs, and there was little interaction with the crowd. Russel Simins just walked off stage as soon as he had finished drumming for the last track without even acknowledging the crowd, or the rest of the group who were still doing their thing. They certainly weren't a supergroup, go and see Jon Spencer Blues Explosion.

Sunn O))) at Villette Sonique

I have seen Sunn O))) before and know what to expect from their performance ... lots of extremely distorted, slowly strummed, heavily sustained chords, lots of smoke and the sartorial splendour of a medieval monk. That was exactly what we got.

Tonight SUNN O))) were performing The GrimmRobe Demos, but to my ears it wasn't that different to the gig I saw in Brisbane when they were touring Altar, an album they recorded and toured with Boris.

There was much smoke, much raised fists and slow punching of the air, much slow sustained, distorted chords, much more smoke, much holding guitars aloft to increase the grace bestowed upon them by their god of sustained, distorted chords, much more smoke ... and robes with hoods.

Sunn O))) are a bit of a joke for me ... a Jim Carrey type of joke with only one facet; he pulls "funny" faces; they play slowly strummed, heavily sustained, majorly distorted chords. I get it. I like the guitar sound but after 15 minutes it gets a bit dull. And they have all the stage presence of watching a fire without the flame. They were even booed after the set finished, although there were many fans with fists aloft at the front of the stage who seemed (un)happy enough.

The Jesus Lizard at Villette Sonique

Then The Jesus Lizard took to the stage as a part of their current reunion tour. Opening with a diatribe on the crappiness of the first two bands, which I didn't completely disagree with, they then proceeded to tear the venue apart.

There was much stage diving, crowd surfing and spitting, and that was just from front man David Yow ... the audience joined in too. The power and energy from the stage was palpable.

Microphones were destroyed, kids kept invading the stage, sweat, spit and beer covered the stage, bodies leapt and were passed over one another, and still the music threatened and pounded.

The Jesus Lizard were the saving band of the night. Go and see them on their reunion tour.

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