Apparently Aftermath is on the "golden showers" beat. We've been sent, so far, to cover R. Kelly and Tuesday night, Jay Reatard. Though Reatard hit the popular consciousness in 2008 with his collections of singles, Aftermath didn't really know much about him until earlier this year. The singer made music headlines by engaging in a hilarious Twitter spat with his former bandmates, who, rightfully, quit the band following some drunken antics by Reatard involving the aforementioned urination issue. So Aftermath went to Walter's last night armed only with that knowledge, not knowing what to expect from the Memphis garage-punk. We went home pleasantly surprised that someone like Reatard can manage to keep punk sounding fresh and fun while still maintaining a fuck-you air. It seems appropriate that the last show we went to at Walter's was 30-year-old punk band The Queers. Seeing them and then seeing Jay Reatard is like looking at one of those evolutionary charts of man - Reatard owes a lot to his punk forebears, even down to the self-appropriated surname, but he also owes a lot to the rock and roll pedigree of his hometown, though at times his sound is more Detroit than Memphis. Aftermath can even sense a bit of the Motown girl-group tradition in some of his songs. The benefit of Reatard's prodigious output of singles is that you get shows like Tuesday's, where the setlist is 15 or more songs long, which gives the crowd a taste of the changes Reatard's made to his sound. The first part of his set was the darkest stuff, opening with "Blood Visions," to the pleasure of ardent fans right up front, who sang along to every word of every song. Aftermath particularly liked "Oh It's Such A Shame." About a third of the way through the setlist, he switched to an acoustic guitar for the drummy, dreamy I'm Watching You, following it up with a few slower songs before switching back to his Flying V for "See-Saw". Aftermath missed American Sharks but we caught the second half of openers The Energy, who, oddly enough, didn't live up to their name. The band is young, forming just a few months ago but they're all seasoned musicians. Still, they seemed a bit shy on stage, at least until their closing song, a well-done punk cover of Tom Petty's "Runnin' Down A Dream." So, color us converted. That's the thing about live shows. Aftermath might not have been a fan of Reatard's had we just heard his music alone. But seeing him live, he's managed to outplay his notoriety. In our mind, at least.
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