CMJ ’08: Jay Reatard, King Khan, & Mission Of Burma @ “Rhapsody Rocks NYC”

The “Rhapsody Rocks NYC” party at the Music Hall Of Williamsburg offered not only a strange, intriguing mix of performers, but also an oddball order of performances: The much discussed Jay Reatard went first, instead of Hardly Art’s hardly mentioned Seattle retrofit jangling soul-folkies the Dutchess And The Duke. Reatard and mates wisely acted the part of the opening act, keeping their set super short, not wasting time between songs, etc. The Tennessee garage-punk’s written catchy tracks over the years, but over even too slightly long a set it’s clear he’s writing the same catchy tracks over and over. Instead of thinking of Reatard as a “single” maker, I enjoyed his work best when it blends into GBV-style patchwork (just GBV-style … he doesn’t hold a candle to Pollard). The trio managed decently enough, the AOL-approved “My Shadow,” “You Mean Nothing To Me,” etc., etc., spinning into what felt like less then 20 minutes. Mission accomplished. King Khan, backed by Mark Sultan (aka BBQ, etc.) on foot drums, guitar, vocals, and pink swami hat, stayed in the garage after aforementioned Dutchess & friends. Of course, he came dressed in a wacky getup: A silver short shorts/shirt jumper he likely picked up at the American Apparel down the street, Crest-white sneakers. During one tuneup, KK jokingly sang a few lines from Silver Apples’ “Oscillation.” Hey, would be nice if he oscillated his sound here and there (ba dump dump, played on foot drums).

The real reason I walked over to MHOW was to see Mission Of Burma, who can still blow younger groups off a stage without carrying a big shtick: Roger Miller, Clint Conley, and Peter Prescott (minus one Bob Weston) had an “OBURMA FOR OBAMA” sign on front of an amp and offered up amusing between-song banter, but otherwise kept to the songs that made them iconic (“Not A Photograph,” “Academy Fight Song”) as well as the ones they recorded in their second lives (“So Fuck It,” The Obliterati’s “1,001 Pleasant Dreams,” etc). They were great. Key moments: A dude to the right who looked like a Billy Idol/David Byrne hybrid singing along ecstatically to each and every song and the fist pumping/encore closing “That’s How I Escaped My Certain Fate,” after Prescott informed us “This is going to be so anti-climactic.” Fucking joker.

[MOB pic via SoundBitesNYC’s Flickr]