The Jeffrey Lewis Band is actually comprised of two brothers, Jack (bass/keys) and Jeffrey Lewis (guitar/vocals/songwriter), and their friend Dave Beauchamp (drums). Raised by beatniks in New York and a devout comic book fanatic, Jeff plays an eclectic blend of low-fi folk rock with simplistic instrumentation that is transformed by Jeff's fantastical lyrics, which weave tall-tales from fun, to bitter, to just plain weird in such a magical fashion.
The standout song of the night was "Williamsburg Will Oldham Horror," which is this rambling, stream of consciousness rant that tells of Jeff's encounter with Will Oldham on the train where Jeff is seeking the answer to the eternal question 'is it worth being an artist, indie rock star, or are you better off without it?' His lyrics are profound and hilarious and his music reminds me of The Rugburns and Daniel Johnston. Another great track was "Don't Let The Record Label Take You Out To Lunch," which is a refreshingly bitter, witty ditty about how 'you will always pay at the end of the day...because everything has a price, and you don't wanna overspend.' I also couldn't help but enjoy the two "low budget videos" he presented, which were basically Jeff flipping through this large, tattered comic book he created for a couple of songs as he sang the narration. His illustrations were well thought-out though, and complimented each track quite nicely.
His voice may be an aquired taste (slight drone), but it suits his personality and allows his lyrics to shine. He is quite capable of moving from the subtle low-fi folk into more punk rock-fueled tracks without ever missing a beat. I was thoroughly impressed with his set and it was one those that totally came out of nowhere for me. These kinds of experiences are always the best kind of surprise and they're what makes going out to see live shows worthwhile.
Be on the look out for a new Jeffrey Lewis album on Rough Trade this fall.