Show Spotlight: Julia Jacklin @ Black Cat, 11/10/19
Today, Ben ruminates on the many virtues of going to see Julia Jacklin at the Black Cat this coming Sunday evening.
Don’t look now, but we’re living in Julia Jacklin’s world.
Pay attention to Julia Jacklin for a few days and you start to get the sense that there’s something magical happening around her.
There she is, onstage with Ben Gibbard and Lana Del Ray in Denver. Look over there, she’s directing the latest video from buzzy fellow Aussie Stella Donnelly (as well as the video to her own new single, “Don’t Know How To Keep Loving You”).
What’s that, the power of her voice made KEXP’s Cheryl Waters cry on the air? She’s nominated for six Australian Recording Industry Association Music Awards? She cut an amazing Strokes cover? Rolling Stone, NME, and The Guardian (among others) gushed about her second full-length record, Crushing? She’s touring the world (again)?
Answer yes to all of the above. Next on her ever-expanding list of culturally relevant moments: headlining a show at one of Washington, DC’s most iconic clubs.
She can cross that one off on Sunday, Nov. 10 when she plays Black Cat (1811 14th St. NW) with Christian Lee Hutson.
What can you say about Jacklin that hasn’t already been written? Crushing is a great record, pulled together from the detritus of a “terrifically complicated breakup,” to paraphrase The Independent’s Helen Brown. There are lots of “body” references, which some reporters have gone so far as to count.
She gets asked the same questions about her relationships and touring a lot (the “you” on Crushing is not one specific guy. Touring is kind of a drag).
She is understandably irritated that female musicians get buttonholed as fragile, diary-scraping victims (“I’m not some delicate flower who is getting onstage like, 'Oh no, people are listening to my heart!'”). A 29-year-old, she doesn’t like that the industry treats women like they are washed up by the time they hit 30.
“It’s a young person’s game,” Jacklin told Alexandra Pollard shortly after Crushing was released. “It’s ageist as hell. Sometimes, when people say to me, 'You’ve got all the time in the world,' I’m just like, 'That’s not the reality I see.' Sure there are exceptions to the rule, but I think this is a very ageist industry towards women, and there’s definitely a lot of progress, but please don’t tell me I have all the time in the world...I just don’t think men would have the same problem. Thirty-three, in male years, you’re still a baby.”
So here’s what I think about Julia Jacklin, the artist whose last DC concert had to be bumped from DC9 to the Rock & Roll Hotel because the demand was so strong. That show sold out, and after getting mentioned in The Washington Post today, the Black Cat show might, too.
Julia Jacklin is a rocker.
Yes, she has her share of emotionally gripping work, introspective stuff, the type of songs that stop you in your tracks — I know that when I heard “Don’t Know How to Keep Loving You” for the first time, I literally froze, jaw agape, thinking “Jesus Christ, is that what my wife thinks about me?” — but she also has power, a presence.
Listen to “Head Alone” or “Pressure to Party,” which sounds like St. Vincent fronted by Julie Doiron instead of Annie Clark. Sure, she gets compared to other heartbreak heroines like Chan Marshall and Angel Olsen (because it’s easy), but honestly, “You Were Right” feels like the best Pretenders song since “Message of Love.”
Watch her live performances on YouTube — watch the way she holds the room. That’s not a damaged flower. Julia Jacklin is not your depressive pixie dream girl. She’s a goddamn star. The world is starting to figure that out.
Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7:30 PM. You can enter to win the Fuzzy Logic ticket giveaway for the show here.