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Jad Fair 

Wednesday, September 13, at the Grog Shop

Jad Fair is one of rock's true oddballs. Almost childlike in his approach to music (he doesn't know how to read music and isn't capable of naming guitar chords), Fair was the leader of the '80s cult band Half Japanese. With his brother David, Fair created a world of lo-fi indie pop that even had admirers occasionally shaking their heads in disbelief. Half Japanese didn't make music as much as it stitched together (sometimes seamlessly, often not) random noise bursts and pop ideas based on a simple progression. Fair has spent the past decade concentrating on a solo career that hasn't strayed all that far from Half Japanese's amateur sound. Some big-time indie names have made appearances on his records (J. Mascis, NRBQ, and Yo La Tengo are just a few fans who've recorded with Fair in the '90s), lending them a sense of mainstream approachability. Don't mistake this, though, for a crossover. Fair can be just as tough to take these days as he was before friends came a-knockin'. He still pumps out new albums on a regular basis, all of them quite interchangeable. He also occasionally pops in and out of towns for quickie shows, and his current itinerary includes three dates: Toronto, Chicago, and Cleveland. Hard to say exactly what Fair will do; live performances are sporadic, sometimes beautifully capturing the naïf at the heart of the music, other times disintegrating into a ball of incoherent noise. Here's hoping for the former.

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