Thursday, December 09, 2004
  transassholism / and you've got to say it's better than a war

The Jazz Butcher "Partytime"

Jazz Butcher "Southern Mark Smith"

In 2000 the Jazz Butcher and his band performed to an audience of about ten people at the 40 Watt Club in Athens, Georgia. I was catatonically drunk, but I remember that their set was as satisfying as the turn-out was depressing. Future hot-shit indie-frauds Death Cab for Cutie opened the show, and there were maybe fifteen people there specifically to see them. It was a complete bath for the club, I’m sure, as the audience never numbered more than 25, and at least ten of those I know to have gotten in for free. So Death Cab’s fifteen fans, who were all either seventeen years old or named Amber Townsend, left as soon as they finished. Death Cab also decided to leave as quickly as possible, trying to duck out before the Jazz Butcher even took the stage. When the club understandably gave Death Cab less money than they expected, members of the band apparently pitched a (no doubt very sensitive) hissy fit. I’m not sure what was said, or if there was any physical contact, but whatever happened led to Death Cab being banned from the 40 Watt for almost four years. A year later Ben Gibbard briefly recounted the affair in that horrible Devil in the Woods magazine, and seemed to feel legitimately ashamed about his actions. I didn’t witness the altercation, but throughout their performance, and up until the point when they left (attracting as much attention as they could from a crowd of ten), they were visibly pissed about the turn-out, and looked like they’d rather be anywhere else. This was in early 2000, right after their second album had been released, and well before they attained any notable national fame. They didn’t have any reason to expect a good turn-out, and their actions made them look like presumptuous assholes.

The Jazz Butcher, meanwhile, who had much more of a right to be upset, having come all the way from England, took everything in stride. Instead of complaining or moping he addressed the situation the only way men should, with humor and alcohol. He and the Conspiracy (or whatever they were calling themselves then) put on a good, highly entertaining show, and the few of us who gave a shit about them had a damn good time. If the guys in Death Cab had stayed they would have learned something about professionalism, and/or how not to be pathetic dicks.

I got hooked on the Jazz Butcher when I was twelve, thanks to Rich Hall’s old Onion World program on the original Comedy Channel. Hall had lots of good bands on that program - del Amitri, the Trashcan Sinatras, Big Dipper - but the Jazz Butcher was the most prominent, and the best. ”Partytime” and ”Southern Mark Smith” are two of my favorite songs by the Butcher. I used to listen to them on a tape I made by hooking our television up through the stereo. These songs come from my old vinyl copy of the Bloody Nonsense compilation, which I believe is currently out of print. They sound a lot better when the Sniglet guy isn’t talking over them, that’s for sure. But so there are a lot of Jazz Butcher compilations out there, and for the most part you'll probably want to stick with his early '80's stuff.
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