Like an angry cat's wail: Amber Schadewald reviews Jay Reatard

Categories: Concert Review

Jay Reatard
Triple Rock, June 21
By Amber Schadewald

Just like the 1960s influence would be, Jay Reatard’s garage rock sounded nothing but classic Monday night at the Triple Rock Social Club. Ratty squealing guitars, strong bass and fleeting drums made for great head banging, speeding to a finish in under 30 minutes. During the rambunctious half-hour Reatard and two band members were on stage, the music never ceased. Even while guitars were tuned between songs, reverb held the room’s attention, never letting sound leave the speakers.

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Hiding behind his socialist-symbol shirt and a mop of frizzy, grizzly curls, the legendary Memphis rock man was nothing but hair behind a mic. No face to be seen, imaginations were left to wonder the shapes his lips made for each of his differentiating singing voices. A masculine man, a helium induced child’s tone or a teenage boy’s intonation, Reatard traded between the character sounds during songs, creating the illusion of multiple vox personal.

Separating songs with random screams or dropping the names of the tune to follow, Reatard and his band were outrageous with energy. Not exactly into crowd interaction, these rockers were too concerned with hitting their instruments with all the talent they’ve got to offer. Bass high in the air, heads spinning and bobbing, guitar thrashing and drums shivering with vibration, the two-minute songs blasted.

Each of the songs had their similarities, the most obvious being the vocal melodies. The intensive guitar solos helped separate one from another, some growing darker, while others portrayed the most gleeful sort of angst possible. At times the guitar wailed like an angry cat’s meow and sometimes pulsed like a revved car engine.

“Waiting for Something” was played second to last in the set and the medium-sized audience finally showed a little more appreciation for what they were given, shaking about their tense Monday night bodies. A mix of thunder and eerie feedback, the song was in good position near close, showing off the sharp musical abilities present in the group. Reatard sliced between the high child’s nag and man tones, while not letting up on his beyond stellar guitar strumming skills. Propping their guitars aside the amps, the three buddies left the stage ringing, not coming back for more.

--Amber Schadewald

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