Jay Reatard Amoeba Tour Hits the Bay Area

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, August 24, 2009 12:17pm | Post a Comment
Jay Reatard embarked on a special indie-record store tour in support of his new album, Watch Me Fall. He played all three Amoeba stores, beginning at Amoeba Hollywood on August 18, 2009, and ending with shows at Amoeba San Francisco and Amoeba Berkeley over the weekend. Read our eyewitness recounts of those loud, fast & furious shows:

Let's Get Reatarded In Here!
By Zack Sapunor

Jay Reatard at Amoeba San Francisco 8/22/09:

The stage was set, the crowd was waiting, the lights were bright. Jay Reatard and company were faced with the eternal test: with music best suited for dirt-paved basements and dimly-lit dive bars, could the Jay Reatard at Amoeba SFrockers bring the noise to the daytime in-store appearance? Could the beasts of the night work their magic beneath the fluorescents? Time would tell.

Yeah, time and loud-ass guitars. The power trio lumbered onstage, flipped the switch, and commenced with the aural assault. Implementing some combination of feedback, reverb, and an echo effect which he would turn to throughout the set, Jay Reatard turned to the band and thunder rolled, baby.

Sludgy pounding, birthed in the garage and raised on the street, rattled the record store to its core. When rock fury hits a daytime show there always seems to be that element of "Is this allowed? Is this supposed to be happening?" The well-planned abrasive intro struck the crowd with offensive force. Folks in the first row reeled, eyes wide. A man holding his phone texted awkwardly. It was pretty in-your- face. Jay Reatard Band at SF

But then the sludge kicked up as the drummer swung in to a relentless punk tempo which I can only imagine was murder on the wrists. The band made adept use of speed variation to hit with the hard pound and then run with the quick attack. War drums and battle axes, know what I'm sayin'?

Song transitions were handled with ease, often blending together, perhaps with a grunted song title announcement in between beats instantly kicking off a fresh change, leaving the audience unsure where one track ended and the next began. These Reatards clearly brought their work ethic. Jay strummed and yelled while the bass player headbanged and the drummer...well, the drummer was too busy to do anything but drum and concentrate and drum some more.Jay Reatard

Finally the band took a brief pause before commencing with another pounder. The assembled masses were a bit better prepared at this point. The next song provoked increased head nodding and even inspired a solitary dancer. Could Jay's charms be working? The crowd seemed excited although the man with the phone still looked quite dazed and vaguely violated. Meanwhile, thrashing continued, baby.

Despite the band's appearance, with Seattle hair a la The Melvins or the cover of that Soundgarden album, the music -- while briefly sludgy at times -- all in all kept it pretty punk rock. The tempos were consistently breakneck, and the chord changes were regularly pogo-prone, which Jay Reatard took repeated advantage of. He not only sings and plays, he dances too. Triple threat in the house! The occasional guitar solos were simple yet righteous, a sentiment repeated to strong effect in the songwriting. You've heard the punk rock motto "three chords and a bad attitude?" Try doing it with two chords and now we're talking. Honorable mention to Jay's tank-top which was the least hippie-looking tie dye I've ever seen. How'd he do that?

I glanced with some concern at the drummer as he continued his furious onslaught of punk pounding and well timed fills. "Is he okay?" Jeez! But the band played on and found an even deeper groove as their set heated up. Energy surged and I contemplated the appropriateness of a circle pit. Would I get in trouble if I stage dived into the oldies section? I decided against it, partially so as not to damage the Jerry Lee Lewis box set I've been eyeing. I'm sure Jay would understand.

Jay Reatard & FanThe boys were in the home stretch now. I witnessed widespread front row headbanging, one youth in particular wore a constant expression that seemed to say "Fuck yeah!" They started their last number, rocking with unadulterated pandemonium. At last they had the crowd completely. The man no longer texted but used his phone to snap photos of the onstage spectacle. The band played in a fiery maelstrom of rockability. Jay screamed, the bassist banged, and they gave the drummer some as it were. The explosive climax featured Jay unstrapping his axe and handing it to a captivated fan in the front row, reverb and feedback echoing wildly. The band screeched to a halt and walked off the stage. The fan returned the guitar. The crowd roared. Mission accomplished.

Jay Reatard and company showed up to rock and that's what they did. Rock 'n' roll, straight and to the point. Well planned intro, a tight and compact set with the band responding to both verbal and physical cues from Jay, and a finale that came unhinged in an appropriate manner. They came, they saw, they rocked it. So for a good time call 1-900-REATARD and kick those nasty beats.

Or just buy the new record. I'll see ya at Amoeba.


If No One Dies…A Success in My Eyes.
By Robvertigo

Jay Reatard at Amoeba Berkeley 8/23/09:
Jay Reatard Band
Welp…What can I say? Did ya want to hear the new record? Expect it played exactly? Then you don't know the myth and monster that is JayTard ©. If you want loud, furious stabs of metallic pop going gnar-gnar punk, then this one’s was for you.

I've been following the kid since his early days of home recording (damn near fifteen years ago!), and I've seen the damage that has laid in his wake. His reputation is up there with the likes of mythical campfire horror stories. Comes on like a punk rock Jason Voorhees. Bloody axes (Flying V’s), broken faces and smashed mirror balls litter the path. Always on the edge of bursting into fireballs, as songs that may be alt-pop on record hit maximum velocity on stage. Never get too close to a puzzled panther. I've witnessed eight shows in his lengthy career (Reatards, Lost Sounds, some solo...does Final Solutions' video count?) and no less than five ended in total carnage. This time out was aurally no exception, but Jay Reatard drummerhe did seem to restrain from…say…taking out our jazz room displays or front windows. That was good. I championed this gig and I like having my job. Hell, I’d goes as far as saying the whole band was in tip-top shape and good spirits. Success!

How did it sound, you ask? Great! Better than even ol’ school fanboys could imagine. Raging pop goes punk, whipped into sharp cornered two minute packages.

He came. He fed back.

Playing the good side of a half hour (almost doubling his usual set time! Ha!), the three piece tore through a large amount of the new record, sJay Reatard at Amoeba Berkeleyome of the Matador singles and Blood Visions tunes. As figured, they be punkin’ the hell out of the newer material. Tons of edge to the tracks, but played pretty much at proper speed. Gasp! Gone soft? Pphhfftt. Reatard can put enough spit and bite into a song that even the Archies could’ve been covered and it’d sound menacing.

The Stork Club-sized crowd seemed attentive yet fairly laid back, but folks in Berkeley tend to be polite in these situations. More flailing hair than Metallica on the Ride the Lightning tour and Melvins gig combined. Little breathing space was left in between tracks, barely enough room to bark out song titles and twiddle with some psych-damaged noise. So much delay and looping was going at times you’d thing Greg Ashley was working the knobs. Nothing was harmed (‘cept for some loogies aimed at the unsuspecting reggae section) and it was good to see someone finally put to use the CD racks as monkey bars. Been waiting to try them out myself…

So for wrap up: No one rushed off to the emergency room.

Tinnitus be damned!

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