“Club”: A brain-melting, corrosive noise-rock set by reunited ’90s alt-rockers The Jesus Lizard

By on January 14, 2019

The Jesus Lizard – Club captures a brain-melting, corrosive noise-rock set by the classic reunited lineup of the ’90s-era alt-rockers at the Exit/In in Nashville, TN, on July 14, 2009, the first U.S. stop of their 2009 reunion tour on what was then the ten-year anniversary of their break-up. Watch it now on Night Flight Plus.


The Jesus Lizards’s classic lineup — David Yow (lead vocals), Duane Denison (guitar), David WM. Sims (bass) and Mac McNeily (drums) — provide visual proof that a decade after first parting ways, after playing together for ten years before that, they were a force to be reckoned with.

Henry Owings — whose Chunklet fanzine later issued the audio tracks as a limited-release gatefold double-LP on December 6, 2011 (just 1000 copies) — provided the art direction for the DVD packaging.


Directed by Matthew Robison, and shot by four additional cameramen (Zack Wilson, Andy Snyder, Josh Lagersen and Ryan Duensing), The Jesus Lizard are captured from all angles.

That’s a particularly impressive feat given the small confines of the Exit/In club, located on Elliston Place near Centennial Park and Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.


The twenty-two track, hour-long songlist on this particular night featured songs from nearly every full-length album (and their classic early EP Pure) the band released, save for their anti-climatic final album for Capitol Records, Blue.

In addition to fan favorites like “Puss,” “Nub,” and “Blockbuster,” they also offer up a couple of tracks from their 1996 Capitol release, Shot, (“Thumbscrews”, “Blue Shot”) as well as a cover of the Dicks‘ “Wheelchair Epidemic.”


In their review of the band’s remastered reissues by their longtime label, Corey Rusk’s Chicago-based Touch & Go, Pitchfork’s Jason Crock said this about The Jesus Lizard:

“The band thrived in the underground of the 90s, and from the freedom of Touch & Go in particular; under pressure from no one but themselves, the Jesus Lizard raised a bar that few bands have reached since (and, for whatever reason, one they struggled to reach themselves after migrating to Capitol Records after Down). They were raucous and heavy without the rigidity of later hardcore or the meat-headedness of metal; they played art-rock that actually rocked.”

Read more about The Jesus Lizard below.


Hey! Do you have a Night Flight Plus subscription?

We’re offering up original uncut air masters of Night Flight programming from the video vaults of the 1980s TV show, as well as provocative new selections from the world of music, documentaries, animation, cult films and more. Sign up today!


The Jesus Lizard were founded in 1987 when Duane Denison (ex-Cargo Cult) approached singer David Yow and bassist David Sims for a studio recording project to record new songs he’d written.

Denison, Yow and Sims — “the Davids” — were all living in Austin, TX, but by the end of that same year Sims had moved to Chicago to form the unfortunately named Rapeman with Steve Albini and Rey Washam.


Yow later also ditched Austin for Chicago, where Touch & Go Records, as well as their booking agent and producer Steve Albini’s recording studio were all based.

Denison had also previously been in Austin legends the Big Boys, who’d put out an album, Strange Men Bearing Gifts, on Touch & Go in 1986. They’d played a lot of shows with Yow’s and Sims’ previous band, Scratch Acid, who would call it a day in 1987.


All three — Denison, Yow and Sims — eventually ended up in Chicago, sharing an apartment together in Humboldt Park, a relatively dangerous neighborhood in the Windy City, making recordings at first with the use of a Roland 707 drum machine.

On July 1, 1989, The Jesus Lizard played their very first live show — on a bill with Slint and King Kong — at a favorite local Thai restaurant, Bangkok Bangkok, which was located near Steve Albini’s house/recording studio.


That same year, The Jesus Lizard put out their first recordings, an EP called Pure at Studia Media, a 16-track recording studio in Evanston, Illinois.

They used an Alesis HR-16 drum machine on the recordings, but soon they were recruiting drummer Mac McNeilly — who at the time was playing bass in the band Phantom 309, not his first choice of instrument to play — to join their new band for the full enchilada: recording, touring, etc.


After putting out a handful of brain-melting corrosive Alt-Rock era punk-infused albums — Head, Goat, Liar, and Down, each produced by Steve Albini and released on Touch & Go between 1990 and 1994 — The Jesus Lizard were also featured on a split 7-inch single with Nirvana.

Steve Albini, in fact, who would end up producing Nirvana’s last album, In Utero, in part because Kurt Cobain and the band loved Albini’s production of both the Pixies and The Jesus Lizard, two of his favorite bands.


The success of Nirvana, in fact, had led to major labels all looking for their own punk-infused bands, which is how The Jesus Lizard ended up signing with Capitol Records in 1995, back when major labels were still willing to take a chance on bands with an abrasive, dissonant, noisy sound (just a few years earlier, they’d also signed Texas psych-punk renegades the Butthole Surfers).

Their signing followed the release of their last Touch & Go recording in 1994, the same year that their song “Panic in Chicago” was included on the soundtrack to Kevin Smith’s cult film Clerks.


The Jesus Lizard released Shot in 1996, but after the departure of MacNeilly later that same year, they hired a new drummer, Jim Kimball (ex-Laughing Hyenas and Mule), who’d been in an experimental jazz duo with Denison, calling themselves the Denison/Kimball Trio.

Eventually, as it is with all bands, The Jesus Lizard finally disbanded in 1999, after ten years together as a band and just after the release of their final Capitol album, Blue.


Watch The Jesus Lizard – Club on Night Flight Plus.


About Bryan Thomas

Bryan Thomas has been a freelancing writer/critic for All Music Guide, and a contributor to Launch, Music Connection, Big Takeover and numerous other publications and entertainment websites, blogs and zines, most of them long gone. He's written more than sixty sets of liner notes. He’s also worked for over twenty years at mostly reissue record labels -- prior to that he worked in bookstores and record stores, going all the way back to the original vinyl daze. He lives in the Miracle Mile neighborhood of Los Angeles, CA.