October 26, 2019 at The Sinclair
What started as a room sparsely filled turned into a fully packed venue of fans quietly belting out the words to a Radiohead song off of Jay Som’s pre-show playlist. Before the song finished, deafening applause drowned it out as Melina Duterte and her five-piece band walked casually onto the stage. “If You Want It” started the show with the guitar riff, arguably the catchiest part of the song, far more prominent than usual . The first few songs softly bounced on by with a calm, head-swaying vibe adopted throughout the crowd, bolstered by Jay Som.
The energy started to build during the fourth song of the set, “Nighttime Drive.” Immediately, the drums got louder and more rhythmic while the lights turned red to match. Guitarist Oliver Pinnell started having a bit more fun, looking at drummer Zachary Elsasser with a smirk at several points throughout the song. This electricity quickly hit the audience, who started bouncing higher and banging their heads harder. The excitement in the room was teeming as the song neared the violin solo. But there were no violins to be found. How were they going to replace it? Duterte started playing the backing guitar for the solo. The band huddled together, exchanging unintelligible words and laughing. Soon enough Pinnell was riffing his guitar in a way that reminisced the violin, but instead of playing a solo the rest of the band joined in and jammed along. The band was obviously having a lot of fun and sounding great, confirmed by an already familiar cheer from a singular fan in the back that snowballed into a loud cheer from the entire audience.
Following “Nighttime Drive” and “Anak Ko,” the band once again huddled together, but this time the lights went out instead of red. An unsettling screeching sound violently emerged from the guitar and came to an abrupt stop paired with a quick drum-hit. Halloween was a week away and the band certainly acknowledged it, not with a joke but with this intermission that spiraled into a spooky jam session When it ended, the same passionate fan pioneered another loud, well-deserved cheer from the crowd.
The energy didn’t die down as the band neared the end of the set with some fan favorites. First was “Superbike,” which was preceded by the loudest cheer yet. The song ended with another stellar guitar solo from Pinnell and it seemed the concert had possibly peaked. But the introduction of the penultimate song, “The Bus Song” had somehow resulted in an even louder reaction. The voices of the crowd almost overcame Duterte’s throughout this entire song, which left the band clearly jovial.
The final song, Pirouette, was a bit of a ballad and left the crowd a bit calmer than the rest of the show had, at least until the song was over. The band gave a rather underwhelming farewell and disappeared backstage, but the audience got, yet again, louder than ever. No one seemed to leave or quiet down, for at least a few minutes. Above the roar came a passionate “Woo!” from the same fan who had started all those cheers before. Seconds later, Jay Som took the stage again. “How about we play a couple more songs for you?” An obvious cry of agreement followed. It was hard to tell whether the band was expecting an encore, but they gathered quickly and started another ballad with “I Think You’re Alright.” The band once again exchanged smiles and looks as they played, and truly seemed like they were having nothing but fun. They ended the show with one last, longer than usual jam session that had the crowd jumping and dancing along. The whole show felt like a jam session of sorts, as if your friends had made a band with a few songs and invited some people over to watch them play in their garage. The intimate interjections from Duterte, improvisation on guitar and drums, and the overall casual, fun tone the band had set as they played music with each other helped to bolster this feeling. It helped that the venue was a rather snug one, but it was hard to not imagine Jay Som making you feel just as welcome and at home in a stadium.