Last night’s Jay Reatard show at the Black Cat was supposed to take place on the club’s large Mainstage, but was moved to its smaller downstairs area—probably due to low ticket sales, thanks to the holiday weekend. Still, the Black Cat’s Backstage was crowded, and those who ventured out were treated to Jay Lindsey (aka Jay Reatard), along with bassist Stephen Pope and drummer Billy Hayes, in an intimate setting.
The Black Cat staff, likely aware of incidents at past Reatard shows, were prepared for a rowdy crowd. Four staff members barricaded the stage to protect the band and attendees from each other. They proved especially useful when a nasty fight between two young girls broke out during “It’s So Easy.” Although the confrontation looked painful, it paid off when Reatard apologized to the triumphant girl as she stood in front of the stage. It was the only direct interaction the frontman had with the audience all night.
The music itself also landed like a punch to the face. Reatard’s set was a 45-minute assault on the ears: It was loud and frantic, with material mostly drawn from In The Red Blood Visions and Matador Singles ‘08. Pressed against the front of the stage, an energetic pit of mostly younger showgoers went especially crazy over “Oh It’s Such A Shame” and “Greed, Money, Useless Children,” the best track of the night. (I was hoping to hear a lot of new material from Reatard’s forthcoming album Watch Me Fall, but since that didn’t happen I bought it at the show. I listened to it and it’s good. Really good.)
During the encore, show opener T.V. Smith, of the legendary punk band the Adverts, rejoined Reatard and crew on stage. Covers of late ’70s Adverts songs like “Bored Teenagers” were performed to the pleased crowd. By the time the last collaboration, on Reatard’s “We Who Wait,” kicked in, it was easy to lose track of where the Adverts’ covers ended and the contemporary punk started-a feat showing Reatard’s music is not just a flash in the pan.