His fans include Kurt Cobain, and indie bands such as Bright Eyes and Wilco have performed covers of his songs. He calls himself “a representative of Cornwood industries” and is a mystery to the music industry, artists and fans alike. He is Jandek.
KDVS will present Jandek in concert Nov. 12, at the Davis Veterans Memorial Theatre at 8 p.m.
According to Roy Werner, a DJ at KDVS, it is a show that people of all musical tastes should come out to see.
“This show will most likely be incredible by anyone’s standards,” he said.
Jandek is huge in the underground music scene. He began releasing LPs of music in the late 1970s, and started playing live shows in 2004. Who Jandek really is though, is an enigma to everyone. The albums are credited to be by Jandek, but the actual singer is known only as “a representative of Cornwood industries,” the label through which Jandek’s albums are released.
Jandek’s style of music has evolved throughout the years, ranging through the use of loud electric instruments to, more recently, quieter acoustic instruments to accompany Jandek’s voice. According to Nadav Carmel, a former KDVS DJ and a main organizer of the concert, the show will be more traditional.
“The ‘representative of Cornwood industries’ will be playing keyboard and singing. It will be similar to Jandek’s recent Toronto show, which featured some longer, atmospheric pieces with the representative singing or intoning over it,” he said.
Carmel says that what’s most exciting about the upcoming concert is that each Jandek show is quite unique.
“He seems to treat every concert as both a fully conceptualized recording session and a random encounter. He rarely plays with the same musicians twice, with the band almost always being assembled from local musicians by the local promoter.”
This was the case for the Davis concert as well, with locals Christian Kiefer on guitar, Alex Jenkins on drums and Greg Brucker on double bass.
Kiefer, a huge Jandek fan, was shocked when Jandek selected him to perform in his concert.
“It’s an incredible honor to be chosen to play this show. I don’t even know how it happened exactly. How lucky am I?” he said.
Kiefer is especially excited for the unique experience of playing with Jandek.
“It’s essentially improvisation, and that kind of show really keeps you in the music in the best possible way: listening, responding, leading, following. When it works, it’s like a dance,” he said.
Kiefer describes Jandek’s sound to be more than just music. “Perhaps it would be best to think of him as a spoken word performer or poet who happens to work extensively in music as well. It’s best described as sound art,” he said.
Whoever Jandek is, his influence is undeniable. “The guy is a singular and near mythical figure in underground music, and one of the most uncompromisingly independent,” Carmel said.
The concert is an experience that does not come around often.
“I would see Jandek based solely on how prolific he is and how uncommon his performances and appearances are,” Werner said.
According to Kiefer, even those who have never listened to Jandek should go.
“Jandek’s work comes from some other world. I find it to be very spooky and beautiful,” he said.
According to Carmel, Jandek will not only be giving Davis a concert, but will be performing a unique set for KDVS. Jandek will be performing solo set for KDVS’ ‘Live in Studio A’ program after the concert. Details are still being worked out.
The set will be only the second ever Jandek radio broadcast, who has, so far, only appeared on WNYU when NYU hosted him a few years ago. According to Carmel, Jandek’s set will be just as unpredictable and unique as his concert.
“I have no idea what’s in store for that,” he said.
Tickets can be pre-ordered online for $15 at brownpapertickets.com, or can be bought for $18 at the door.
ANNETA KONSTANTINIDES can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org