Jake Lazovick is a weird dude. Throughout the years, he’s put out a string of wordy singalongs and soft synth meditations like Snow Joke and Drum Set that grasp at that eerie middle-of-the-road suburbanism with a cheeky look, a deadpan punchline, a flailing misdirection. What on this surface of his live shows looks like flailing sketch of 101 Things to Learn in Art School, Lazovick’s worked his way into downtempo and house-influenced dance jamz with an oblique awareness of the performative body, the manic space between smile and frown, the body as DIY punchline. I guess it’s appropriate that the project’s been known as “Sitcom;” Lazovick’s performance feels like the taut ethos of a Seinfeld or Friends episode without the laugh track, a hit or miss confidence that’s probably essential these days in performance. Like Phil Elverum’s more stream of conscious efforts turned Demetri Martin one-liners (with maybe a dash of the Wiggles), Lazovick combats the roaring chaos of punk with a fearless gesture, a wonky boom-bap, an uneasy chuckle from the back of the room.
On his latest release titled Gig Bag, Lazovick further ventures into middlebrow Americana with eleven laptop portraits of what he seemingly knows best: suburban houses, windy cities, American flags and cartoony, technicolor outfits. “Wind blows” is an ode to the universally-colliding air particles, rushing into a sea of Capital ‘A’ ‘American’ Hyperboles like American Flags and Strip Malls, Nike Shirts and Sweatshop Dirt. It reminds me of a painting I saw recently from fellow MICA grad, Flashlight O musician, and frequent collaborator Colin Alexander; it’s not really a critique of #brands or neoliberalism that either of them are after, it’s more nuanced than that. Unlike, say, Adbuster’s clunky Corporate American Flag, seeking to Raise Awareness of the fact that America is like, Controlled by all these Brands with like, their own Financial Interests and shit — a valid concern tackled in the least subtle way possible — both Alexander’s painting and “wind blows” (as well as lots of other moments on Gig Bag) suggest a complacency with brands. While Alexander’s painting dramatizes the branding process, forming the Sun Trust Brand from a seemingly Feel-Good Place of Warrior Poses and Quilted Paper Towels, playing out the benign and complacent process of ‘Brands Coming Into Being’ from ‘Natural Human Interests’ and shit, Lazovick similarly suggests the inescapable presence of brands. It’s a world in which “peace doesn’t exist,” where even in the thrift store, you’re still hunting for that Nike Shirt or Sweatshop Dirt — fallen trends twenty years removed, now funny in the second hand. But, like the scalable irony of ubiquitous dad caps and turtlenecks in Topshop, it’s a joke that the entire community is in on, laughing along for reasons no one really ever questions or understands. This apolitical ambivalence of comedy — present in both ironic fashion’s disidentification with technocapitalism and Lazovick’s hyper-earnest, goofy-ass deadpan — is the contemporary sublime du jour. It’s face-value uncanny, wild hypercapital comedy, the peak tragedy of the Jack Nicholson insanity laugh.
But, is it a call to action? A cry for help? A last tame gesture, memorializing All Things American in song? No one really knows, but it makes for some dope-ass dancing.