Texan duo Jamestown Revival delivered a foot-stomping set of Americana tunes to a sold-out El Rey Theatre for the last show of their tour on Thursday. Longtime friends Zach Chance and Jonathan Clay make up the duo, and these two are innate storytellers in both their lyrics and onstage presence.
Clad in effortlessly cool western attire– a wide-brimmed hat here, a suede vest there– the duo and their backing band took the El Rey stage. Not wasting a moment, they jumped with verve into the jaunty-rhythmed “Fur Coat Blues” off their first album, Utah.
Chance goofily remarked that they were “tickled…just so damn tickled” to be in L.A., a city they previously called home for a while. The crowd was buzzing with a similar sense of familiarity. You just feel at home with these guys; there’s a certain kinship to their show.
From love songs, to honky-tonk tales of homeowner blues, to lyrics espousing the curative properties of nature, their auto-biographical storytelling draws you in. As the songs continue, you feel more and more a part of the stories they tell.
Next up, the band raised a little hell on “Done Me Wrong,” an old-school blues tune told from the POV of a snubbed lover, off their newest album Education of a Wandering Man. The story’s snubbed lover was, in fact, Zach Chance.
The tune was all rambling guitars and peppy drum beats at the get-go, but mid-way through the instrumentation was reduced to just a light guitar riff, cymbals and the duo’s soulful voices. This diminuendo was just a temporary respite, though. As the percussion began to creep back in louder and louder, the guys flippantly shouted the song’s best lyric into the mic: “I’m sure he’s got good manners…but can he please you like I can?”
With that, a rowdy roar of approval erupted from the audience and the band catapulted back into a raucous jam session. Hip-hop no longer retains exclusive rights to the lyrical diss, it would seem.
It wasn’t all hell-raising and string-bending tunes, though. The duo swayed side-to-side at a lilting pace for “Love Is a Burden,” and glided through the nostalgic acoustic stunner “Golden Age”, often leaning in to share one microphone while harmonizing together.
Continuing the storytelling theme, Clay regaled the audience with memories of the band’s comical gig in the beer aisle of the La Brea Ave. Whole Foods. As a crowd began to grow, they realized the shoppers were not gathering in appreciation, but rather patiently waiting for the song to end so they could get past the musicians…who were blocking access to the beer refrigerators. Citing those humble beginnings, Clay and Chance offered the venue a heartfelt thank you for the (actual) support.
They closed out the show with “California,” the hauntingly beautiful tune penned in a L.A. garage, and a soulful cover of Creedence Clearwater Revival’s “Long As I Can See The Light.”
Connecting with an audience of hundreds whom you’ve never met isn’t exactly a natural thing, yet these guys seem to do it in their sleep. The whole thing feels like you’re in someone’s living room, sitting on their mom’s floral couch having beers and listening to your good friends play some guitars.
You do not, in fact, know this band. But the fact that their storytelling can make you feel so at home is something worth…well, writing home about.