I'll admit that the Jay Som Tiny Desk Concert is one of my favorites. Their heavily produced sound comes off perfectly when put in the intimate space and boiled down to the four core members of the group. That video was what made me initially a fan, the group trading jokes just as well as they shared guitar licks and small–but powerful–synchronizations. On Tuesday, two years out from the Tiny Desk taping, that same energy was present at the Foundry.
A glowing blue tower full of cars stood on the outskirts of the Fillmore, and people clad in black lined up for the Sum 41 show in the main atrium of the theatre. The side entrance led to the Foundry, the Fillmore's smaller venue with a bar in the back and a stage only a couple feet higher than the floor.
boy scouts opened, led by Taylor Vick, primarily playing songs off their latest release, Free Company. The group plays sleepy but sturdy music not unlike that of Frankie Cosmos, with Vick's voice somewhere between Stef Chura and Adrianne Lenker of Big Thief.
The set, while a bit quiet, was entirely heartfelt, and Vick's voice was filled with a sincerity that could only be found in a live setting. The highlight came with their song "Get Well Soon," fitting, given that Jay Som also released a song titled, "Get Well," though this was unfortunately unaddressed.
Jay Som began their set with the opener off their latest album, Anak Ko (meaning "my child" in Tagalog), "If You Want It." The song starts with a steady and structured riff played on two guitars. The slight dissonance between the two evoked a darkness that had been lacking in Jay Som's music in previous recordings. Frontwoman Melina Duterte's voice adds a hushed cynicism, what some may call crooning but to me feels similar to a late–night radio host whispering to her audience.
At the end of the song, there's a rapid series of synthesizer notes I had assumed were produced by a sequencer, a module that automatically produces complex arpeggiations. I was surprised, then, to discover that Duterte played these herself on stage, as effortlessly as she plays the guitar and sings. They followed up with the title song off of their debut album, Turn Into, and "Baybee," from their 2017 album Everybody Works.
The group's synergy was evident throughout, with instrument trade–offs happening quickly and silently between songs. Similarly, the trade–offs in harmonies between bass, guitars, and synths were all seamless and of studio quality. Some of that was lent through electronic elements, but some was through sheer effort and dedication.
At one point of cacophony in the outro of a song, most of the band pounded on their instruments while the bassist furiously scrubbed his strings, producing a muddy, warbling sound that enveloped the surrounding noise. It felt almost euphoric, but still grounded in what was right before me—a band giving it their all to reproduce the perfection of the record.
The band's California roots were also evident throughout their music, and their glowing, sandy guitar sounds mixed perfectly with the off–kilter synths. Although the hour–long set featured some new tracks like "Nighttime Drive" and title track "Anak Ko," they made sure to balance it out with classics like "The Bus Song" and "Baybee," and some semi–deep–cuts like "Pirouette."
They closed out on their two most languid songs, "I Think You're Alright" and "Lipstick Stains." Regrettably, however, my favorite track off of Anak Ko, "Crown," didn't make an appearance on the setlist, and the band left without an encore. This was likely in their favor though—the shorter performance full of hits meant there was little drag in the night.
An app on my phone automatically detects when music is playing and identifies the song. Typically, it works about fifty percent of the time, but it picked up songs throughout Jay Som's performance, a true testament to how tight their set was. The band had a clear and present dexterity that could only come from practice and chemistry, and Duterte's skills on guitar and captivating vocals held the night steady.