It was June 2017 and I was at the stage located inside Rough Trade, one of my favorite venues in the city. My favorable outlook on the stage not just based on its proximity to my apartment, but thanks to being on a nasty streak of seeing nothing but stellar performances at this venue. I anxiously creep toward the stage that singer-songwriter Jay Som
, aka Melina Duterte, was set to perform on shortly and hoped that my streak would stay alive that night.
Fast forward 3 months later. It was Thursday, September 21st as I walked from Washington Square Park to Bowery Ballroom. I was on my way to see Jay Som for the second time.
Jay Som took the stage at Rough Trade and the crowd was about to hear how one of the best albums of the year, Everybody Works,
translates in a live performance. Within a few measures the band's distinct sound captured the crowd, and suddenly I felt relief, knowing that the streak was indeed staying alive.
The band finished "The Bus Song" on the Bowery Stage which sounded just as great as the studio version. It even evoked a slight sense of nostalgia, since it was the second time I've heard it live. The band relished the banter and the joking around on stage instead of trying to cut through it, which is something they didn't do as much at Rough Trade.
At Rough Trade, the band started playing one of their highlight tracks, "Baybee," which was sublime. In the live setting, the bass was heavier, the clinks of the guitar pops much louder, and it all coalesced as that familiar drumbeat came to life while lead singer Melina Duterte delivered the beautiful chorus. When the song came to an end, I watched a beer descend from the balcony on top of the birthday party that had loudly chattered through the beginning of the set. I couldn't help but smile.
Jay Som came back out onto the stage at Bowery. The crowd continued their cheering as they have been throughout the night and just as they had been 3 months ago. The ending was near now and I felt that I owed the band for another night of joy. In such a short period of time, they managed to show signs of improvement - and they already sounded pretty damn good. It's safe to say that I will have to wait more than 3 months to see them again, so I can only imagine how much more
they will have improved by then.