[TypicalGirls] Jason's review of TJ&J

WWWhatsup joly at punkcast.com
Mon Jun 23 05:50:42 EDT 2008


The Brief Return of Teenage Jesus & the Jerks
Lydia Lunch deigns to viciously insult her adoring fans once again
by Jason Gross
June 17th, 2008 12:00 AM

At least half this band's name is totally accurate.

Teenage Jesus & the Jerks
Knitting Factory
June 13

Thirty years ago, her metallic guitar strums, monotone
yells, and pounding rhythms defined a scene that seized
the outcast trappings, brief songs, and basic
instrumentation of punk, twisting it into an extremist
art-world deconstruction of the music. Convinced that
her band had run its course, she killed off TJ after
three years and lived the bohemian life, bouncing around
the U.S. and Europe, tirelessly crafting numerous
nefarious art projects. But where Lunch was anxious to
be the dominatrix here in an S&M show, attacking with
noise and words instead of whips, the crowds for these
two sold-out shows played along somewhat passively, even
after a barrage of Lunch's insults. You might chalk up
that mostly rapt response to typical indie lethargy, but
in this case we were also gawking at the elaborate,
bizarre, nostalgic spectacle of it all (many folks in
the crowd were born after TJ expired). Even as she
effectively tore through the whole TJ catalog in 11
songs, no one seemed pissed about a 20-minute set, which
was actually double the length of their old shows.

As such, the Dadaesque humor of the music didn't
connect. The sight of the relatively tiny Lunch
sandwiched between the towering, stone-faced pair of
former TJ bassist (now drummer) Jim Sclavunos and TJ fan
Moore on bass was hilarious enough. But compare her 1978
TJ performance on the recent Video Hysterie compilation
to this one: On top of a modified proto-goth/death-metal
sound, her voice now has several more layers of
slapstick bile, though her crazed slide solos on "Red
Alert," "Baby Doll," and "Orphans" could still make a
dead man (Elmore James, say) cum. But if the music
didn't quite convey the comedy and confrontation she
intended, her abusive exchanges with the fans (who
perversely enjoyed her taunts) got the point across. A
few hecklers challenged her, but her skills as a
lifelong provocateur didn't make it a fair fight: "You
suck!" rejoined by "I do, but not for you!" was as edgy
at it got. She even had harsh words for Moore and
Sclavunos when they missed their cues. Usually, she
answered the applauding audience with venom, ordering us
to "Shut up" more than Little Richard does, replying to
"It sounds fucking great!" with "Like I don't fucking
know that!", and just throwing punches out of nowhere:
"You'd love to fuck me, but you can't afford it," "You
have no fucking clue," "Don't expect a fuckin' encore
'cause you're not getting one," and her concluding
retort, "Thanks for nothing!" Whether she intended it or
not, that too was part of the evening's entertainment.
As she left, a so-called admirer yelled, "Fuck you,
Lydia!", which went unanswered this time. It was the
best compliment she could have hoped for.

             WWWhatsup NYC
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