Scratch Acid and Girlfriends at The Paradise Rock Club in Boston (November 9, 2011)
"Thanks for coming out to the re-" David Yow stopped short, paused for a bit, and instead of finishing his sentence with the expected "reunion," he substituted "re-enactment." And to be honest, it was a more fitting descriptive term considering their swan song was released in 1987 as only the eighteenth release on the storied and then fledgling Touch and Go label. Thanks to the fine folks at the All Tomorrow's Parties organization, this is the second recent resurrection of a Yow band (2009 saw The Jesus Lizard back on stage, with no lapse in fury or energy) and this particular reformation was kickstarted by their addition to another (and now-delayed) ATP fest that Jeff Mangum is curating.
The Jesus Lizard had a much higher profile (they played Lollapalooza and had a few records out on a major label) than Scratch Acid, and this was underscored by the fact that the same venue which hosted a sold-out Jesus Lizard show two years ago had the balcony closed and a much more comfortable people density factor on the ground floor. Which is unfortunate, since the bite of Scratch Acid is just as deep and venomous as it was back in the eighties. Yow's had the good fortunate to have exquisite tastes in rhythm sections. David Wm Sims is the anchor on bass for both bands, his heavy notes lending a bit more swing to the proceedings than the all-out attack of The Jesus Lizard (cf. the swampy riffage of "The Greatest Gift"), and Rey Washam favored much more rack tom action on his kit (which was mis-matched to the extent that it appeared to be the product of several weeks of scavenging yard sales and trash pick ups) than the hammering precision of Mac McNeilly. As great as The Jesus Lizard was, they just couldn't produce songs like "El Espectro" and "Big Bone Lick," where the chunky chord style of guitarist Brett Bradford displayed the most prominent difference to the spidery precision of Duane Denison. Yow's vocals also had a different edge, like a terrified reporter that's just seen unspeakable things ("Crazy Dan") rather than the man that's just committed them.
Yow also was upfront about the passage of time; two and half decades is substantial. "We're old guys...and old guys doing young music, it's not as easy as it obviously appears." One thing was clearly obvious: they can still clearly compete in the game they helped create.
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