The turn of the 21st century signaled immense change, to the point that the modern world would be barely recognizable to someone transported directly from 1999. Though fears of the world ending from the Y2K bug proved unfounded, for a small group of music fanatics the world may as well have ended, for in 1999 The Jesus Lizard split up.An underground noise rock band hailing from Austin, Texas, The Jesus Lizard spent the late eighties and all of the nineties exploring the disturbed, harsh strain of punk rock that is often affectionately referred to as “pigfuck.” Imbuing the psychedelic and hardcore legacy of Iggy Pop and the Stooges with a caustic urgency, The Jesus Lizard came as close as anyone in living memory has to perfecting the art of cacophony. Their sound was that of perfectly controlled chaos; each member of the four-piece outfit brought a brutal precision to their art that would have been demoniac on its own, but somehow both belonged and thrived in the band’s format. They were deranged. They were caustic. They were phenomenal.
Unfortunately, the group was before their time. Despite a split single with Nirvana, The Jesus Lizard never quite managed to tap into the mainstream market. Even a reputation for delivering truly devastating live performances that featured the almost-psychotic antics of frontman David Yow never translated into commercial success for the group. In 1999, the group disbanded. After a decade without a worthy successor to their mayhem, The Jesus Lizard banded together for a two-year reunion tour in 2008 before calling it quits for good, never to be heard from again.
Against all expectations, The Jesus Lizard appears as the most unlikely name adorning the stellar lineup of Day For Night 2017. The deciding factor could have been the festival’s dedication to uniting communities around art, activism and music; it could be down to a charitable calling to help their neighboring communities in Houston in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. I like to think it is simply an act of the chaos and anarchy in which their music is so deeply grounded.
Day For Night returns this December 15-17 with a truly tremendous ambition, promising immersive art installations and exhibitions alongside a potent lineup of musicians. Although names like Nine Inch Nails, James Blake, Thom Yorke, Lil B and Solange will entice most attendees, the invigorating experience of innovation and connection at the heart of Day For Night is what promises the most reward. With the unrestrained fervor of The Jesus Lizard propelling it forward, this year’s edition promises the primal edge needed to break the boundaries between music and person.
Photo Credit: Tinnitus Photography