After several months of waiting, I was able to catch Jambang at 12 Galaxies in the Mission District of San Francisco. My pal Scott Jones and I arrived early, and got to speak with drummer Steve DeLollis, along with meeting Greg Ginn, all the while enjoying the sounds of CCR coming out of the house PA.
The Taylor Texas Corrugators opened the show. Their set was made up of loose, improvised jams. The sound was heavily guided by the mandolin playing of Bobby Bancalari, which at times sounded more like a violin. His standout moment was an excellent Baroque style solo, given after an introduction by Ginn. Cliff Samuel's bass playing also featured heavily. His sound reminded me at times of Holger Czukay's, and it pulled the band forward with a tight focus. Steve played a lot more straightforward than on the Corrugator's CD's, less Swing and more Rock. There were brief moments when his playing moved into the style of Bent Edge, but for the most part he rocked hard. Ginn featured a melodic sound for most of the set. He played simple lines for the most part, coloring the sound more so than attempting to dominate it. He had a tone much like that of Jerry Garcia at times. His one extended solo in the set had the Harmelodic qualities of James Blood Ulmer's coolest moments.
In contrast to the overall looseness of the Corrugators, Jambang's set was extremely tight. They played most, if not all, of the debut CD, and stayed true to the tunes as recorded. I find it really fun to listen to Ginn's guitar playing with Jambang. His tone still has it's raw edge, but the more relaxed pace of his approach allows for more space with which to really hear it's depth. Ginn rarely solos during Jambang's tunes, but there is still a lot of sound coming from his amp to appreciate. The keyboard lines that he recorded on the CD were played as samples. The band cued around them tightly, and while one friend of mine commented that he found this approach somewhat annoying, I'm a big fan of Greg's tech-friendly ways, so for me it just added to the thrill. Bancalari's mandolin playing was a lot less clipped than on the CD. He played with more legato, using big, ringing chords instead of the percussive style on the recording. Cliff's bass was mixed a lot higher than on Connecting, giving the songs a much harder Rock drive live. DeLollis stayed true to his motorik style on the recording, which, coupled with the more driving bass, made Jambang a heavier live band than I imagined they'd be. The visuals by Joey Keeton were simple forms (raindrops on water, digitized blobs, faces, waves), inverted at times into negative images. I thought it to be a tamer version of the old Butthole Surfers backing films. Interesting, but I was more focused on listening to Ginn hold court.
It was a fun, low key show, and I look forward to seeing them at the Stork Club in Oakland.
SST continues to change in unexpected ways . More power to Ginn and his pals! See Jambang if you get a chance.