Jay’s Upstairs is the uncle that shows up for Christmas dinner with prison tats and a stripper girlfriend. Your parents acknowledge him as kin but don’t want you spend too much time around him.
Getting tagged with “Jay’s band” moniker has a certain amount of subversive cachet to it, but, as many a Jay’s band can tell you, it has a way of limiting your options. So the scene fertilizes itself in the same brackish waters like a teeming grotto of incestuous cave fish.
Which has its good and bad points, one of the bad points being that when a band moves or breaks up, it often drags a couple down with it. Last year saw one of the more dramatic die-offs in the Jay’s scene, with no less than a half-dozen bands vanishing within a few months of each other.
But filth springs eternal. The last few months of 1999 bore out the hope that new bands would spring up to replace the old—and here you go. Three of the brightest in the Jay’s Upstairs Class of 2000:
The four-man Evaders might be part of the second or even third wave of Jay’s bands, but you’d never guess their relatively tender age by listening to them. In recent months they’ve evolved into one of the most frenzied and (yes, this still matters) fastest punk bands Missoula’s had in the past five years. Undeniably punk, they completely destroy most of what passes for it these days. But that’s not what bassist Chris Baumann says.
“We like metal. None of us owns a metal record except Sam [Nasset; guitarist], but we all play metal.”
Lardello are probably just as reticent about copping to obvious influences—namely, the jagged stray bits of the Touch and Go sound that have found their way into what probably—distantly and almost recognizably—also began as an instrumental surf blueprint way back when. Except with bigger amps. Some aspects of From Beyond—of which guitarist Adam Jelinski and bassist Shane Graff are both alumni—survived the transition intact, although the addition of drummer Yale Kaul has mathed up the overall sound considerably.
“We’re more like a prog band,” muses Kaul. “At least we think we are.”
Speaking of beef, that strange but desirable quality immediately springs to mind when discussing Sharky, long a hobby of ex-Spanker members Bob Marshall and Cynthia Laundrie that went undebuted until just a few months ago.
“Sharky was always what we’d do in the down-time between our other bands,” explains Marshall. “When the other guys were gone and we still had beer left.”
Like Spanker, Sharky (Marshall, Laundrie, bassist Bubbles Hickey and vocalist Noriko Ishihara) takes the poundfest to new levels of precision. Showgoers accustomed to Laundrie’s rock banshee presence as Spanker’s front woman will be pleasantly surprised to see her on drum duties (“She’s from the Billy Squier drummer school of drummers,” Marshall says proudly), and fans of the long-gone Open Face should applaud Marshall’s return to guitar.
The rock is in good hands. Now let’s drink.
To catch Evaders, Lardello or Sharky at Jay’s Upstairs, keep your eyes on “Eight Days a Week” in the coming weeks.