Friday, January 29, 2010

Jay Reatard: 1980 - 2010

One of the best concerts I've ever attended was a spur of the moment decision last July. I sure am glad I made it out that night to the Jay Reatard performance at the Music Hall of Williamsburg. The prolific garage-punk musician and his band banged through an appropriately brief, rocking set drawing from his many singles (compiled on 2 superb 2008 compilations) and first LP proper (released by Matador). The encore, however, was truly a case of saving the best for last. Ancient--in punk terms--T.V. Smith (former frontman of the Adverts and opening act) joined Reatard on stage for an amazing medley of classic Adverts tracks. Reatard's music definitely evoked memories of the Adverts so this was a fitting passing of the torch.

Reatard was found dead in his bed on January 13 and I missed the initial headlines so I'm belatedly noting his tragic passing. I can't say I was on the Reatard bandwagon from the beginning so I'm grateful I had the chance to see him live that one time. As someone who loves the Adverts, the Buzzcocks, the Dead Boys, the Stooges, and the like, I felt like Reatard channeled that music into his own without it seeming derivative. On the contrary, this was invigorating stuff. A gifted songwriter and exciting performer who becomes another "what might have been..."

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