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POP MUSIC REVIEW : Jad Fair Surfaces at the Nuart

March 30, 1994|RICHARD CROMELIN

The term underground rock legend is tossed around pretty carelessly these days, but Jad Fair is the real deal. Making records with his group Half Japanese and under his own name, the Baltimore nerd has been inflicting his obsessions on the world since the late '70s. Fair has exerted a strong influence on the independent rock scene, but remains too elusive to be lit by the reflected glory.

At the Nuart Theatre on Monday he remained something of an enigma--unsullied innocent or a genius of the put-on?--even after the 90-minute documentary "The Band That Would Be King." Fair himself followed the film with his first L.A. show in five years. Backed by a local pickup trio, he played his "love songs and monster songs" in a sloppy but engaging set. It veered from driving, Velvets-derived rockers to unaccompanied segments in which he wound his guitar strings into random tunings and chopped out rapid rhythm patterns. He didn't bother to retune for the next full-band song, but after a few hours in Jad's World, that made perfect sense.

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