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What You Missed: The Regrettes at the Majestic

Indie-pop band, The Regrettes, stopped at the Majestic Theater in Madison this Wednesday with special guest, Jackie Hayes. I snapped some pics of the show and wrote up a recap for your eyes to enjoy.

Jackie Hayes

Jackie Hayes just gets the Midwest-emo thing.

Her music isn't the screaming, raspy, I-hate-this-small-town traditional kind of stuff; instead, it marries grunge with pop and a dash of post-punk. Her tunes have the brightness and spark of an alternative pop soloist, but it's impossible to not hear the angst and grunge influences in the thick drowning bass lines and reverby guitar. Even her outfit choices and album art indicate an influence from the grittier '90s aesthetics with baby tees, combat boots and her classic blonde blunt cut. Her music, meanwhile, hints at Hole or even No Doubt mixed with the quirks of modern pop artists like Remi Wolf. Every song is a little drowsy and somehow strategically melodic all the while--I can tell she's a smart writer, having the instincts to create pop choruses but building interesting instrumentals around them to make things exciting and dark.

Between songs, she's shy; she doesn't exude charisma like she does in song. Jackie keeps her energy reserved for her performance, when she flips into a sharper attitude to sing lines like, "Dead battery, suck out all the fun/If the slum's not here, then where do I go?" on "omg." Even though the crowd keeps their movement minimal, it's hard not to hear the expertise in her spectacle.

The Regrettes

The Regrettes pull a younger crowd: there's plenty of Xs on the backs of hands when they direct the pit to put their hands up. And at the same time, there are a large handful of individuals rocking '70s band tees and salt-and-pepper hair, mostly scattered around the sides and in the balcony of the Majestic. It's an odd mix of Gen-Z and Gen-X, but The Regrettes obviously have a style that pulls a wide demo.

Many publications call The Regrettes a punk band, but to my ear, their recent work sits much closer to pop rock. I can't imagine hearing "Anxieties (Out of Time)" and labelling them anything without the word pop in the genre. In one of their earliest stream-able tracks, "A Living Human Girl," there are hints of that Joan Jett influence, from the feminist killjoy lyrics to the punchier instrumentals that have an obvious '50s flair. But on their 2022 record, Further Joy, it's obvious they've moved into a more comfortable, softer sound that allows frontwoman, Lydia Night's voice to shine on their most intimate lyrics yet. The shift heard in this album comes from a pandemic-induced year-long separation followed by a writing retreat in Joshua Tree that encouraged a totally new vision. Further Joy is a pop album that contrasts themes of abusive men, body image and queerness; it's about dancing the pain away. It's perhaps the relatability and the glaring honesty that makes their fanbase ready to scream every lyric.

When they're on stage, it feels like they're including us in the most precise band practice ever. The members of The Regrettes have an obvious loving friendship, and it's in performance where they're the closest. Lydia Night has an unreal force; I can't tell if she's a complete natural of if she's done this forever. Right from the get-go, Lydia is interacting with fans, encouraging mosh pits (albeit strange for their style of music), taking selfies on fans' phones and jumping on speakers. She's hopping and two-stepping the entire time--I was out of breath watching her. Any light fan of this band will surely become a stan after experiencing the energy they bring to live performances, and the intimacy is made even sweeter in a personal space like the Majestic.

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