Show Review: Jay Brannan at Bottom of the Hill, 7/25/09

by Marie Carney on July 25, 2009

Witness the death of Jay Brannan's kashaka during his a capella version of Blowin' In The Wind

Witness the death of Jay Brannan's kashaka during his a capella version of Blowin' In The Wind

Jay Brannan has the kind of voice you dream of at night.  Silky smooth and beautiful.  My first voice teacher used to prod me to imagine a string, and while singing you’re slowly pulling the string out of your throat in this smooth never ending line.  That’s what Jay Brannan sounds like, that elusive smooth perfect voice flowing on and on into the night.  He backs that voice of his up with some great songs, good guitar playing, hilarious stage banter and a whole lot of hotness.  

We missed the first opener, Two Sheds, but caught the second act Terra Naomi.  Her music was well suited for the crowd being the same type of indie-folk that Jay does.  Her voice was amazing and it was a treat to have seen her.  She kept the crowd engaged by making a lot of jokes, including talking about PMS to a 95% male crowd, my favourite quote being “In the spirit of PMS, this next song is about a funeral.”  The cheers from the sold out crowd were huge, rivaling those Jay got later on, especially on the song “Vicodin.”

When Jay Brannan came on stage he got settled on his stool, looked into the crowd and started the teasing banter right away, telling us that he was happy to know that in San Francisco he can count on the audience to be so drunk it doesn’t matter what he plays.  Then he launched into the first song on his new album “Beautifully.”  If you haven’t heard Jay Brannan, his songs are so depressing, yet so beautiful it is truly hypnotising.  The translation from album to stage is spot on.  He is a great performer and never misses a note.  It was one of those quiet acoustic shows where at times you could hear a pin drop everyone is so reverently respectful.  But the second the song is over there is an explosion of noise and praise, then the laughter, then the quiet reverence again.

Here is the setlist:

Beautifully
Housewife
On All Fours
Eppure Sentire  (Elisa cover)
Soda Shop
Half Boyfriend
La La La
Zombie (Cranberries cover)
Goddamned
Blowin’ In the Wind (Bob Dylan cover – a capella)
Denmark
Relax Your Neck (written with Margaret Cho)
Can’t Have it All

But what I really think Jay Brannan does the best is make it personal.  Between the honest and raw lyrics on his records and his part in the John Cameron Mitchell movie “Shortbus,” you really feel like you have seen every part of this man before you go to his show.  Then he is on stage and somehow he opens up even more, and what you are watching is glorious.  There’s the talk of how he “Sucks at Life” mixed in with stories of the TSA in the midwest saying to him that he should only play “happy tunes” with his guitar to which he responded “Bitch, take your happy tunes and shove them up your ass!”  Or at least that’s what he wanted to say.   He makes a sold out show feel like hanging out with your ridiculously cool and talented friend.

It was a lovely evening shared by all.  In a fading economy and supposed decline of the music industry, I overheard at the merch table that both Terra Naomi and Jay Brannan sold out of some of their items and this was only their second show on the tour!  Goes to show that if you can give a quality heartfelt show there will always be people there to support you.

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