Jay Som, the Filipino-American one-woman-band from California, describes her music as “headphone music,” which sort of describes all music in 2019 just by default, but still. The lush, layered compositions she painstakingly creates in her bedroom (literally) certainly lend themselves to close, solitary listening; you miss two-thirds of the music if you play it on your laptop or car speakers. But it’s headphone music in another sense, too.
People today listen to their headphones (or, yeah, Airpods or earbuds) everywhere, all the time, as a sort of counterweight to the boredom of waiting in line, the rudeness of the typical commute, the drudgery of the treadmill at the gym. So music meant as a palliative has to fulfill certain requirements.
One, it has to be emotionally evocative, to counteract the desolation it’s being deployed against. Two, it has to be short and catchy, to hold your attention. And just as a matter of practicality, it should be sonically dense, so you get a nice wall of sound/white noise effect to blot out the guy talking on his phone next to you at the pharmacy, the woman coughing on the back of your neck on the bus, etc.
Jay Som’s music fulfills all these requirements in spades. If it sounds that life-changing on your earbuds, imagine how good it’ll sound blasting out of the world-class sound system at the Rock & Roll Hotel.
Jay Som, 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 30, Rock & Roll Hotel, 1353 H Street NE, $18.