Jim Jarmusch Plays Not One But Two Free NYC Shows With His Paisley Underground Band

by delarue

The big news today – if you haven’t already heard – is that Jim Jarmusch’s band, Squrl, are playing a free show not only this Tuesday, Feb 17 but also again on Thursday, Feb 19 at 8 PM at the World Financial Center. For those who don’t know the band, Squrl isn’t just a famous film guy doing music on the side for the hell of it: they work the gorgeous/abrasive Americana/psychedelic dynamic with a surreal tunefulness and menace worthy of the Dream Syndicate. Which makes sense: in the early 80s, before his movie career took off, Jarmusch was a force in the New York punk scene: future avant garde luminary Phil Kline was a frequent collaborator and bandmate. Like Guided by Voices, the band had basically been in mothballs before Jarmusch got it going again for the soundtrack to his vampire film, Only Lovers Left Alive, a couple of years ago. They’ve been very active since, at least in the studio. Their most recent album is titled simply EP #3, streaming via the Wall Street Journal’s online edition, a deliciously sludgy, slowly swaying series of paisley underground jams.

The ep’s first track evokes the Dream Syndicate taking a lingering, menacing stab at Neil Young & Crazy Horse. Black Swan is a long, increasingly creepy, hypnotically fuzzy stomp, a clinic in midrange textures: it would be a shock to discover that Martin Bisi wasn’t involved in it. Francine Says might be interpreted as a drolly opiated post-Velvets dis at a girl who needs to pull her shit together. The final cut is Should I Go or Should I Stay, a wistfully growling tableau that foreshadows great current-days bands like Mesiko.

On both nights they’ll be accompanying silent films by Man Ray. The concert calendar there gives the impression that the show will be just a duo performance by Jarmusch and his multi-instrumentalist bandmate Carter Logan, but with Jarmusch, you never know. Considering the current polar vortex situation, you’ll probably do better beating the crowds if you go to the Tuesday show and get there early: an hour beforehand wouldn’t be too early, because every indie film fan in town has this on his or her calendar. Also be aware that the front door to the building may or may not be open due to construction: your best bet is to walk along the north side of the new World Trade Center, then cross the highway, then take your first left – which you won’t hit til about the middle of the block – then go around and go in through the back door. There wasn’t a lot of seating at the most recent concert here, so be prepared to hang out on the steps in the back of the “winter garden.” Since Squrl will be playing live soundtracks this week’s films, it makes sense to expect more noisy jams than actual songs from either the ep or the Only Lovers Left Alive score. Which in a way will be even more fun, a quite possibly once-in-a-lifetime event which fortuitously will be recorded and then aired at a later date on John Schaefer’s New Sounds Live program on WNYC.