Jay Som inspires my next existential crisis at the Colectivo Backroom

Earlier this week Jay Som played a show with Soccer Mommy and Stef Chura in the backroom of Colectivo. The “fuzz-loving” band is touring to promote their album Everybody Works, which, according to their bandcamp, weds “lo-fi rock to hi-fi home orchestration,” and weaves “evocative autobiographical poetry into energetic punk, electrified folk, and dreamy alt-funk.”

The opener Soccer Mommy is lo-fi with West Coast intonation, the clarity of the lead singer’s voice layered over wispy, boggy sound. Their outfits reminded me exactly of Lindsay Lohan’s band from Freaky Friday, in the best way possible.

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“That’s the fun one, the rest are going to be sad,” said lead Sophie before the band played their song “Inside Out.” The band distracted an instrument change with a drum jam. After a few songs, Sophie stood on stage alone to croon the song “Alison,” which she promised would “get you feeling bummed.”

The next act, Stef Chura, sounds like a raspy Regina Spektor. The songs draw out and spiral, elongated and earthy. Her voice, reminiscent of folk, twanged. “Isn’t it funny how life is meaningless?” she quipped before playing a song she wrote 10 years prior at 18 years old.

Jay Som opened with “Just in Time.” Melina Duterte stood on stage to the very far right, their bassist dead center donning a Steely Dan shirt. Their drummer to the back is an-Animal-from-the-Muppets type with strong eyebrows and bleached hair, that is to say, throughout the show I remarked to my forever-plus-one Hannah about how crazy talented he is.

Jay Som’s sound is unabashed. It’s a surprise when you’re expecting shy and cloying based on studio versions of the songs. They create an atmosphere that delights, an echoed wonder. The layers of drums, guitar, bass, reverb, distortion all feed each other until it reaches cataclysm. I’d call it Good Shoegaze if the labels “bedroom pop” or “dream pop” hadn’t already been affixed to their art.

The band members themselves are pretty cheeky. At one point, the three in front assume warrior poses in a jokingly serious manner. Melina remarked it’s their second time in Milwaukee, having played at Cactus Club before, and that it’s good to be back. They played “One More Time Please,” which I’m interpreting as a subliminal message that they’ll be back in the mil again soon.

Here, the drumming began gently and suddenly the audience was hit with capital-letter SOUND. Jay Som replicates a sonic boom in the way their songs build. At the very least, this is what I’d imagine a forest fire sounds like: melancholic, powerful, weirdly beautiful. They played “Turn Into” and went ham.

They announced a song off their newest release: “Baybee.” It seems to be about a roundabout conversation with a moody significant other that leaves the speaker feeling insecure and maybe a little annoyed. The chorus is on theme with the angst of the rest of the set, going, “If I leave you alone/ When you don’t feel right/ I know we’ll sink for sure/ I’ll play your game once more/ If you don’t feel right/ If you don’t feel right.” The ever present vulnerability in the lyrics is a fitting pair for the listless weight of Melina’s voice. We feel as if we are given a window into a certain sadness or wondering, but instead find our own emotions exposed.

Then comes, “The Bus Song,” which, according to Melina, is “about stuff and things.” She sharply inhaled in a pause.

The show wrapped up with their ever-popular Sad Girl Jam, “I think you’re alright.” We left enchanted, which I think is the desired effect.

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