April 26, 2019 at Great Scott
She opened strong and never showed any sign of slowing down.
There were two pieces of tape on Julia Jacklin’s guitar waiting for her on stage. One said “Julia’s Guitar” and the other said “You got this.” She proved that night that she does, in fact, got it. She opened strong and never showed any sign of slowing down.
Early on during her set she took a moment to dedicate one of her songs to a fan who had driven hours to see her only to be turned away by Great Scott’s 21+ policy. (Incidentally it’s the same reason that, I , the photographer for the event ended up writing this review.) She lamented the seemingly arbitrary age limit to drink and enter clubs as she asked the audience two questions. “How old do you have to be in this country to vote?” and “And how long do you have to be to go to war?” When the audience gave both answers that were under 21, she just smirked and went on with the show, but not before dedicating it again to the boy standing just outside the door, in the rain, listening through the walls of the club.
That was the energy of the night. Quiet protests, simple frustrations and knowing smirks. On Jacklin’s latest album, she refuses to be polite or subservient to these frustrating things we’re all tired off. Whether it’s male privilege, like on “Convention,” or pressure to express your love physically on “Head Alone” or all the pressures to have fun when going out at night after a breakup.
It might not be punk rock screaming and thrashing, but her points are just as strong and poignant. She sings softly, does things on her own terms, and doesn’t do it to impress.
On “Convention,” she compares Trump being given a microphone with a drunken dinner date’s arrogance. She laments the idea that experienced, hard working and marginalized voices are shut out by ignorant, cocky men in politics and her personal life. She recounts her dinner date giving one of the worst pick up lines I’ve ever heard. “[I] buy the paper, but I read between the lines, I can show you how I do it, why don’t you come back to mine?”
She doesn’t have to point out his flaws, his blandness or how much she probably cringed hearing that. By leaving her point of view off the record we’re left to make our own judgements about this man.
The lack of protest in the song points out that the onus is not on the oppressed to shout and fight for their rights, it is on the oppressors to listen.
On “Head Alone” she belts out “you can love somebody without using your hands” and “I don’t want to be touched all the time, I raise my body up to be mine” and the audience sang it back just as loudly, each person singing it to someone specific in their mind.
The energy continued on in “Pressure to Party,” a hectic track dedicated to feeling so much pressure to have fun, to make conversation and to somehow forget everything inside your brain and to “just have fun.”
The low ceilings and low stage at Great Scott always offer an intimate setting for performers, and in turn, their audiences. Jacklin takes advantage of this when she delicately discusses death in songs like “Eastwick” and “When the family flies in.” Looking out over the audience, she let her voice linger and her eyes close as she ended the track and left us with chills.
By the end, she left the venue with a quiet thank you and an even quieter exit.