Review: Jay Som @ Rock and Roll Hotel, October 31, 2019

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Oliver Pinnell plays guitar, Melina Duterte sings and plays guitar, Maxine Garcia plays guitar and Dylan Allard plays bass at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Camryn DeLuca)

On a chilly rainy night before Halloween, throngs of people in Washington, D.C. watched the Nationals play in game seven of the World Series.

About a hundred people turned up to see indie rock band Jay Som at the Rock and Roll Hotel instead. The group’s tour is promoting their latest album, “Anak Ko,” that was released in August 2019.

The title translates to “my child” in Tagalog, a Filipino dialect. Lead singer and guitarist Melina Duterte’s parents are immigrants from the Philippines. Duterte is from Oakland, Calif.
Boy Scouts, led by guitarist and singer Taylor Vick, opened the show with a quick set.

Jay Som came out in a relaxed manner as an eager audience awaited the start of the set. Duterte and multi-instrumentalist Maxine Garcia wore matching Sum 41 cropped sweaters.
Garcia is a member of the band Fime, which Duterte produces.

The group started off the set with “If You Want It,” the first song off “Anak Ko.” Before Duterte referenced their Californian roots, I noticed a distinct West Coast sound in their guitar. You just know it when you hear it. The band performed “Turn Into” next, where the opening riffs embody that Californian sound the most for me. It all clicked when the band confirmed my thoughts.

“We’re far away from [D.C.] but we love it here,” Duterte said.

Duterte performed with such ease, which was a testament to her comfort in sharing her creative efforts for the crowd. She finished each song with a quick and pleasant “thank you,” then having a quick laugh with guitarist Oliver Pinnell.

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Oliver Pinnell plays guitar, Melina Duterte sings and plays guitar, Maxine Garcia plays guitar and Dylan Allard plays bass at the Rock and Roll Hotel in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Camryn DeLuca)

Pinnell mesmerized the crowd with multiple guitar solos throughout the set. The performer stood out with his long blonde hair and mustache and continued to grab attention while shredding away at the guitar.

Audience members matched the mellow energy of Jay Som. A few people near my friends and I helped us in locating a friend who was navigating through the tight space after using the restroom. People cracked jokes with Duterte in between songs. The space felt warm and welcoming.

A majority of the crowd were able to shout “but I like the bus!” in reply to the band’s performance of “The Bus Song,” a track from their 2017 album “Everybody Works.”

The apex of Jay Som’s set was the band ascending into a totally tubular jam session. Duterte and Pinnell continued switching to higher octaves on the guitar. The Californian guitar that caught my ear in the first place was alive and well in this moment. It felt like the accompanying track to a surfer’s swift race through a tunnel wave.

My night at the Rock and Roll Hotel ended with a feeling only a few artists have been able to capture from me - the yearning for the show to continue. I admit that I’m a mere mortal and get tired even at the sets of groups I truly admire. This was not the case for Jay Som. The shorter set left me invested in what the band has in store for the future.