Jeffery Lewis & The Junkyard

Joined by New Mexican Revolution and Felsen At Backspace

Jeffery Lewis at Backspace Friday night
By Hannah Turner-Harts
Nov 12 12:00am

Folk musician Jeffery Lewis combined art, history, and music into one entertaining and surprisingly informative show last Friday night at Backspace. The New Mexican Revolution and Felsen opened for him.


The Portland-based The New Mexican Revolution played gypsy Americana incorporating many instruments into their music including horns, accordion, banjo, and ukulele. The New Mexican Revolution has been working and playing in Portland for nearly seven years. In that time they have put out three solid albums and have another one in the works.


The Oakland-based outfit Felsen came on next. Decked out in a loud knitted cap and a jaunty scarf lead singer/ guitarist Andrew Griffin would often hop off the little stage at backspace to come incredibly close to audience members (myself included) and played noisily in their personal space. Some people were taken aback by it but most just blushed and giggled trying to avoid eye contact. Griffin’s enthusiasm for his music enlivened the crowd at backspace, which was the usual mix of old people and underage hipsters. Then came the bunny. Mid-way through the set a person in a bunny costume came out and boogied to hits like “BFF OMG”.  Felsen smartly chose to use humor to enhance their performance and to engage the audience.  Musically they did not deviate much from rock except for the occasional song like “BFF OMG” with pop influences. Everyone in the audience could tell that they loved performing and that passion was infectious.


Jeffery Lewis is sometimes labeled as anti-folk, although no one seems to know what that title means, it seems to fit his style of rambling self-deprecating songs sardonically mumbled over simple chords. In many of Lewis’s songs offer observations about the world that are at once funny and sad. This was most apparent in the song “Life” where each five line verse is a different observation about life, like “God's just a story someone made up long ago” and “ Kisses are weird but they can be fun”.  Although he is most famous for this Lou Reed-style of acting almost too bored and depressed to keep singing, with his band, The Junkyard, Lewis adds deeper levels of instrumentation and picks up the tempo for some punkier songs. The highlight of the show was the slide show presentations on the Bay of Pigs Invasion and the history of the development of punk on the lower east side. Lewis, who is also a comic book artist, did all of the illustrations to the presentations, set to music and all in rhyme they managed to be both clever and catchy.  Another great moment in the show was when Lewis reworked Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” as a modern Jewish upper east side tale, “Quote the Pigeon Bupkis”.  Jeffery Lewis proved to be a witty, talented, and insightful artist at Backspace this past Friday.



Dylan Brock:

Hey that would be ME!


Felsen rock it...didn't care for the other two bands.