Show Review: Jay Brannan with Terra Naomi at Bottom of the Hill, 6/16/10

by Jason LeRoy on June 17, 2010

Photo by sascha10er

Sensitive gays from around the Bay Area flocked to Bottom of the Hill last night for the latest San Francisco appearance by outrageously cute twee-folk pin-up Jay Brannan.

Brannan was preceded by fellow YouTube sensation Terra Naomi, whose breakout song, “Say It’s Possible,” was adopted by Brannan on his recent covers collection, In Living Cover. Naomi pens witty and heartfelt acoustic folk in a similar vein to Brannan’s, which made her an ideal fit for the bill. In addition to her charming songs and occasionally dazzling vocals (she studied opera before getting into the singer/songwriter business), Naomi also won over the crowd by suffering an extended breakdown about her new bangs throughout her set. “My hairdresser made them look awesome, but she also used, like, eight different products at the salon, and at home I have, like, shampoo,” she explained. Fortunately she was talking to a roomful of gays, so statistically speaking, one of us was probably able to give her a few quick pointers at her merch table afterward. Just sayin’.

Brannan took the stage around 11, greeted by enthusiastic catcalls and woops of affection before he’d even taken his glasses off. It cannot be overstated how feverishly Brannan’s audience has the hots for him. The seemingly thrown-together casualness of his jeans-and-T-shirt appearance only drives us crazier. Perhaps this is because we’re not used to having the cute lanky guitar-strumming golden boys actually be gay; up until Brannan, this archetype has mostly been wasted on unappreciative straight girls. Perhaps it’s because we’ve seen him engage in an unsimulated three-way blowjob and have the national anthem sung into his ass in John Cameron Mitchell’s groundbreaking 2006 film Shortbus. Or maybe it’s because he’s a good songwriter. Regardless: we’re smitten.

Brannan’s flirty and teasing rapport with the crowd began right away. When the crowd roared in response to a line about a “kick-ass one night stand” in his first song, he interjected, “Slutty crowd. Again.” There was also much snickering and juvenile delight when Brannan complained that his sinking microphone was “going limp right in front of my mouth.” (wink!)

The notorious iPhone gay cruising app Grindr was also a frequent topic of discussion, starting when some gay attempted to embarrass his friend by shouting “ARE YOU ON GRINDR?” in between songs. “Are you on Grindr during my show?” Brannan asked from the stage. “Does it say there’s, like, 100 people online in your immediate area?” When asked if he used Grindr, he lamented his status as a Blackberry user with no access to this new paradigm of GPS-enabled hookups. “I mean, what’s Grindr?” he joked quickly, after speaking a bit too informatively about it.

Accompanying himself on guitar, Brannan pulled his material primarily from his debut LP, Goddamned, as well as the famous “Soda Shop” from Shortbus. He didn’t venture too much into In Living Cover, with a few notable exceptions such as his self-penned “Beautifully” and The Cranberries’ “Zombie,” during which the audience was seized by an overwhelming desire to drown him out with our own shrieking Dolores O’Riordan impressions.

He also busted out at least two completely unexpected and delightful non-album covers: Lady Gaga’s bouncy The Fame track “Eh, Eh (Nothing Else I Can Say),” after which he joked about actually being Gaga out of drag; and Patty Griffin’s “Every Little Bit,” which he played out of sheer impulse and apologized for in advance for singing way out of his range (false modesty – he sounded excellent). Incidentally, this makes last night the second concert I’ve seen this year (after Jennifer Knapp) in which an out singer/songwriter covered this song. Since Ms. Griffin seems reluctant to sing it live, I guess awesome cover versions will have to suffice.

As always, Brannan was in excellent shape musically (despite forgetting the lyrics to his first song). In an ideal world, he would be on the same singer/songwriter fame level as John Mayer (although much less awful). He has what it takes: model-good looks, an unfailingly soothing and seductive tenor, and an uncanny knack for writing memorable melodies, not to mention truly being one of the greatest lyricists of his generation. He really deserves to be a huge star. Sadly, being an out performer seems to have doomed his career to the gay ghetto (at least for now). But until he finally gets the mainstream recognition he deserves, we gays will happily continue enjoying him in intimate venues like Bottom of the Hill for intimate shows like this one.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Marie Carney June 18, 2010 at 4:30 pm

I’m still so upset I couldn’t go! Stupid car/work. *sobs*

I like the John Mayer comparison, in that Jay Brannan is the better version of what John Mayer does, but I think, and this is optimistic on my part, his extremely depressive lyrics have more to do with the lack of popularity iof his music? Take a song like “Goddamned” which is well thought out and beautifully constructed, performed and arranged, but the subject matter is far from something that the mainstream world can embrace, while the subject matter of “Your Body is a Wonderland” is far less controversial.
Of course, if you were to ask any of Mr. Brannan’s fans, that is exactly what makes him so much better!

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Caroline June 21, 2010 at 5:47 pm

Don’t forget opener opener Jhameel who did an AMAZING cover of T-Pain’s “Buy You A Drink”. So awsome!

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Jason LeRoy June 22, 2010 at 11:16 am

Yeah, I don’t mean to compliment John Mayer in any way, haha. I certainly think that “Goddamned” is far too dark and controversial for mainstream radio play, but I also feel like it’s very much the exception rather than the rule with his songs. For the most part, they seem to be charmingly neurotic and catchy love songs with rare lyrical insights. Or maybe that’s just because I relate to them. 😉

Wish you could have been there!

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Ben June 24, 2010 at 9:06 pm

Jay is awesome, hope to see him perform one day.

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