90s in 90 Days #11: The Jesus Lizard levels a radio station

90s in 90 Days #11:  The Jesus Lizard levels a radio station

You know it’s a good party if the neighbors call to complain. 

Not many days after the Jesus Lizard had wrapped up their Lollapalooza run, they dragged what looked to be all their touring gear up to the Q101 studios.  They were set to record a live performance for the “Local Music Showcase,” one of those “holy shit” moments that validated my earlier career path of broadcasting. 

Some additional scene-setting flavor:  Up until the very end of 2000, Q101 was located on the 17th floor of the Merchandise Mart, a floor exclusively reserved for interior decorators and their clients.  The furniture and accessories on display in the 17th floor cost more money than I’ve earned in the 13 years since the Jesus Lizard stopped by.  There was a sense of wealth, fragility, and antiquity in those halls–the ideal setting for one of Chicago’s greatest hard rock bands ever to be dropped into.

I remember the pre-taping setup as an hours-long process.   My engineer’s head was spinning as he was getting all the details, wires, and e.q. positions in place.  Mac’s drum kit was massive.  The amps were bigger.   And then there was singer David Yow, the Groucho-meets-Ed Gein frontman, whose howls and shouts needed to be relocated to a studio room far removed from the rest of the band to avoid sound bleed.  

The band’s soundcheck was loud.  Gold records were falling off the walls.  Some of my co-workers left work early because the noise was too distracting to focus on anything else.

And then, once the band was totally ready to tape, levels set, all hell broke loose.  It was like a switch had suddenly been pegged to the proverbial “11” setting.  Complaint calls started pouring in from storefronts next to Q101.  And then from the floor below.  And then from two floors below.  And then storefronts on the other side of the floor (a full city block away) called to complain.  And the band played on…  

There was something truly amazing about the Jesus Lizard playing that distractingly loud amidst all those high-end storefronts.  I remember doing a terrible interview with the band that day, but it didn’t matter.  Rock and roll was accomplished that day.

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