Jay Som

Jay Som at Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, NY on July 28, 2018, July 28th, 2018

Jul 31, 2018 Photography by Laura Studarus
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Melina Duterte is a champ. The artist better known as Jay Som has been touring pretty constantly since she released her breakthrough 2017 debut album Everybody Works, which she wrote, produced, and played all the instruments on entirely herself. She started and finished the album in a studio located in her bedroom, which surely made it difficult for her to avoid her music for too long. Her drive, passion, and determination are blatant, and on stage, these traits manifest in full-band executions that carry an unexpected (and welcome) wallop, diverge into extended improvisations, and reshape the blanketing, whispered lullabies of her recordings into pummeling, personality-infused crowd-pleasers.

Jay Som’s headline set on a Saturday night in one of Brooklyn’s most storied venues followed a run of dates opening for legendary pop punk band Paramore. It’s an interesting pairing—crack-of-dawn, blissful lazy rivers of dream pop preceding high-octane, searingly produced, major-key accessibility—that might engender doubt, perhaps confusion, in some attendees. If Jay Som’s Music Hall of Williamsburg set was any indication, any skeptics will immediately have their minds changed after just a few minutes of watching the band. Live, Duterte and her bandmates Zachary Elsasser (drums), Oliver Pinnell (guitar), and Dylan Allard (bass) transform swirling dream pop hallucinations such as “Baybee,” hushed fantasies such as “The Bus Song,” and shoegaze-indebted anthems such as “Everybody Works” into rock songs that bite rather than mutter. There’s a consistent stomp, a pounding, an undeniable rhythm to the band’s live renditions that’s infrequent on Duterte’s records. The exact opposite quality of what makes her recordings so remarkable, so difficult not to get completely and utterly lost in, makes her live show amazing: riotousness.

It’s not just the sounds that incite the riot. Jay Som isn’t just Duterte and three random people whom she keeps around solely for their talents. These four are undeniably the closest of friends; few other bands so clearly demonstrate such a contagious, invigorating rapport among their members. Small moments such as Duterte grabbing at Allard’s bass during “Take It,” which is pretty much the one Jay Som song whose recorded version boasts anything resembling the bite the live band offers, were as endearing as the songs themselves are. Elsasser’s drumming often veered from the songs’ designated path, and the rest of the band followed in suit with wide, infectious smiles beaming from their faces. The band members share an arms-wide-open geniality and interact with one another constantly; their goofiness gets the audience acting just as gleefully and, sometimes, making movements that many might not associate with dream pop songs.

It helps that Duterte’s got jokes. “New York is always the most lit when we play this song,” she said before beginning “The Bus Song.” Of course, everybody laughed and appreciated the joke—New York is a huge public transit city. Enthusiasm abounded at Jay Som’s show, and if the band’s performances remain of this caliber, it will never be in short supply.

www.jaysommusic.com




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