By: Will Martin

Celebrated noise-rock legends The Jesus Lizard have been hailed by some as the best live act of the 90s, and their return to Toronto on November 12 – a stop on their recent reunion tour – certainly lived up to the ballyhoo.

David Yow looked like a pederast, sort of resembling a Hannah Barbera character created to warn children about inappropriate touching and bad uncles. But it’s David Yow, and he is everything little Pitchfork wankers cream about at night.

Yow is known for three things on stage: diving, spitting and writhing about. He certainly did not disappoint at the Phoenix, hurling himself into the crowd ten seconds into the opener Puss, performing horrifying belly dances and expectorating all the while.

Ah yes, he sings too – from broken and garbled moans to death rattle howling, his voice is unmistakable and inimitable, despite those who try. For all of Yow’s fantastic sweaty shirtless sloppiness, behind him are three musicians that deliver a performance so tight, you could swear they had never been apart.

Mac McNeilly’s percussive precision, David Wm. Sims’s grinding bass lines and Duane Denison’s masterful use of the Travis Bean combine to make one big fucking sound. They are a rare example of a band comprised of incredible individual parts, the sum of which is somehow still more than math would dictate.

Playing a lengthy encore and a truly crowd-pleasing set list, the band moved through classics like Monkey Trick and Here Comes Dudley; the highlight being the seldom heard “My Own Urine”, which reveals a certain tenderness to Yow’s typically unrelenting assault.

One might question the rationale behind the reunion, as Yow repeatedly stated the band would never reunite for cash. The overflowing sack of money with a dollar sign pictured on one of the tour T-shirts might suggest the opposite, but its better not to think about that. It’s best just to cherish the rare opportunity and try not to get kicked in the head by Yow on his way by.

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