Ghostly images

By Jay Janner. Austin American-Statesman, Jan. 31, 2008.

I remember the first time I heard the music of Zeitgeist. It was 1986. I was 17 years old, and in a dingy theater in Houston waiting for Los Angeles punk band T.S.O.L. to take the stage. There was a song playing on the PA system that caught my attention. It had a great guitar sound and two singers — a somewhat rough-sounding man and a woman with a sweet voice. The music was fresh and exciting, and it sounded nothing like the band I was waiting to see. I was told the song was “Things Don’t Change” by an Austin band called Zeitgeist.

The next time I was in Austin, I bought a copy of their debut release on cassette at Waterloo Records, and I became a lifelong fan. I played that tape hundreds of times in my first car, and I’ve never stopped listening to them.

On Jan. 23, 1987, I saw them perform at Eastgate Live, a small club in my hometown, Bryan/College Station. The club was nearly empty, and it seemed as if they were playing just for my small group of friends. They gave it their all, and I’ve never forgotten it. I was a senior in high school, with a passion for photography. I brought my Nikon and shot a roll of black-and-white film of the band in action on the dimly lit stage. About a year later on April 22, 1988, I saw them again at the same club. By this time they had changed their name to the Reivers and released their second album.

There was a sizable crowd waiting for the band this time. I bought a T-shirt with a Reivers logo that resembled the Texas Rangers logo. The band took the stage and blew us away. I had my camera with me again. It was primitive compared with the 8-frames-per-second high-tech digital cameras that I use today. I was a year further along in my photography studies, and my pictures showed a little improvement in my meager skills. This time I shot a roll and a half of black-and-white film.

The photos I made of Zeitgeist/the Reivers in 1987 and ’88 have never been published. I was a young, inexperienced photography student when I took them. The photos are not great by my standards today, but they mean a lot to me because they capture one of my favorite bands at its peak.