by Anna Selle
It's a Monday night in Omaha, Nebraska and Soccer Mommy is wrapping up a cover of Sheryl Crow's 'Soak Up in the Sun' to a crowd of nodding heads and smiling faces, illuminated by the bright stage lights. Stepping in to the venue half of Reverb Lounge feels a little like stepping into a performance art piece at a gallery. Separated by a closed door from the bar outside, sound fills every inch of space in the room and the audience is attentively consumed in the artists in front of them.
Following Soccer Mommy is Stef Chura, whose emotional guitar-pop is accompanied by mellow banter with her bandmates. The two groups are accompanying Jay Som in a run of dates this month, bringing a bill of lo-fi bedroom pop to cities all across the U.S.
Jay Som's Melina Duterte steps on to the stage around 10:30, wearing a full-body poncho with the hood pulled over a baseball cap. Duterte and company start the set with the namesake single from Jay Som's sophomore LP, 'Everybody Works.' For the next hour, they play through much of that album, as well as a few songs from 2016's 'Turn Into,' bleeding one song into the other with energetic transitions and on-stage dialogue.
Jay Som performs with playfulness, at times making Duterte's emotion-laden lyrics feel ligther. During the bridge of "Baybee," where Duterte would normally address an indecisive sweetheart, she delivers a quick freestyle ode to guitar-player Oliver. For fans of Jay Som's recordings, seeing these songs performed live is a new kind of experience, filled with whimsy and delight. It's so obvious to anyone watching that Duterte and her bandmates are genuinely enjoying their time together on stage.
Duterte introduces "I Think Your Alright," a turbulent reflection on affection, as the last song of their set. But as it winds down, the band transitions into "Lipstick Stains," the minute-long ethereal introduction track on 'Everybody Works.' Played together, the latter feels like an intentional continuation of the former. With a smile, Duterte thanks the audience for being here, and we collectively cross the threshold back into the bar.