“Dropping my guitar is the most rock-n-roll thing I’ve ever done." - Julien Baker
"You're precious!!!" - girl in the crowd
"So..nevermind." - Julien Baker
The twenty-two-year-old-artist, Julien Baker, stands small on the stage, as she comes out dressed in black, hair undone, and with her acoustic guitar covered with a colorful sticker collection. Her stripped-down skater girl aesthetic, Memphis twang and gentle voice is indeed very precious. What I love most about her is how she has no frills. Nothing else is needed -- except her voice, guitar and poetic lyrics to entertain.
The crowd wore jean jackets, clear glasses and their emotions ready to unveil. Her lyrics are bleak and yes, sad. But, her listeners crave the therapy of her sound.
As the crowd proceeded to leave after the show, I heard similar mumblings of “I feel all the feels” and “I have goosebumps." Listening to each song felt like a diary entry or a lullaby. Her songs begin smooth, even with the accompaniment of violinist, Camille Faulkner. There's an eventual build, where she cries out and people cheer because everyone feels empathy of being broken. To me, her concert felt like a cross of an emo/indie show, a therapy session and church worship.
Baker grew up in the church, and she identifies as a queer, Christian woman. At one point during the set, she mentions to be grateful to something bigger than ourselves as she began her song called, "Rejoice." In the song she says "But I think there's a God and he hears either way when I rejoice and complain. Lift my voice that I was made." It is one of my favorite songs, that I listen to as a prayer of comfort.
Her Instagram bio says "sad songs make me feel better." If that was at her merch table on a t-shirt, mug, tote bag, etc. I'd be a very moody-looking girl. As sorrowful as her songs may sound, she compensates with hope. One can be convinced that she's consumed by her brokenness, but her records remind me and her listeners that it’s okay to be okay or even less than okay.
Know that and give yourself some grace to believe the same.