Concerts

Jay Som and Boy Scouts Give Intimate Performances on a Quiet Night at White Oak

Jay Som at White Oak Music Hall
Jay Som at White Oak Music Hall Photo by Carlos Brandon
Both the lawn and main room of White Oak Music Hall were empty on a rare, quiet Saturday night. Yet, upstairs, in the venue's smaller side room, Melina Duterte and her touring and recording ensemble, Jay Som, put on an intimate and moving performance for a small crowd of fortunate fans. Also on the bill were Boy Scouts, the indie-folk project led by singer-songwriter and frontwoman Taylor Vick, plus Jay Som's drummer Zachary Elsasser under his solo act stage name, Affectionately.

In the final leg of the first half of their 2019 tour, all three acts shared musicians as Jay Som bassist Dylan Allard played three sets, while guitarist Oliver Pinnell and drummer Zachary Elsasser each played two.

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Boy Scouts at White Oak Music Hall
Photo by Carlos Brandon
Boy Scouts, which is really just Taylor Vicks, have amassed quite an indie following of their own. The Oakland-based project has been described as indie country, though in truth is more like soul pop with country influence.

Vick's soothing melodic vocals stole the show. Her emotive songwriting is complemented by a tender and delicate high pitched voice. The picked notes of country guitar and grungy melodies gave the performance hints of '90s grunge and '00s indie rock. Nostalgically reminiscent of something impossible to nail down, her music is at once full of pain and hope — a sort of upbeat melancholy.

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Boy Scouts at White Oak Music Hall
Photo by Carlos Brandon
Melina Duterte's music has been called both lo-fi and bedroom-pop. She recorded, mixed and produced her entire debut album in her home studio, playing every instrument herself. Her followup album, Anak Ko (meaning "my child" in Filipino) was similarly recorded and produced, though she opened her home to several collaborating artists, including Vick and others from the tour.

Like the albums themselves, Saturday's performance was raw, dreamy, full of psychedelic synth and guitar melodies and Duterte's spacey high pitched vocals. Unlike the albums, however, the live performance featured more driving drums and jazzy bass licks that layered beautifully over synthetic poppy compositions.

click to enlarge
Jay Som at White Oak Music Hall
Photo by Carlos Brandon
Flexing their range as a band and, moreover, Jay Som's genre fluidity, the performance wavered from heady indie-pop complete with synth vocals and long instrumental breaks, to jam band indie-rock with jazzy rhythms and driving guitar.

Initially displaying very low energy (perhaps a product of tour-induced exhaustion) Duterte amped up as her set continued, perhaps feeding off the energy of an exceptionally enthusiastic crowd. By the fourth track, "Nightime Drive," both she and her band found their groove and delivered a much more animated performance.

Perhaps the perfect night for such a soulful and intimate show, the lack of a huge crowds provided a kind of ambient silence that both Boy Scouts and Jay Som filled beautifully with their individual brands of soulful, emotional and melodic performances.
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Houston Press contributor Carlos Brandon is a freelance writer, blogger, and self proclaimed Houston hip hop historian. He contributes to various publications and can usually be found haggling with food truck cooks or talking politics on the METRO Rail.
Contact: Carlos Brandon