July 20, 2023

Julia Jacklin played Central Park's SummerStage

As part of the free concert series in Central Park, Julia Jacklin headlined an impressive show featuring opening sets from Y La Bamba and Black Belt Eagle Scout.

Kicking off the evening, Black Belt Eagle Scout warmed up the crowd with lush guitar sounds that mostly focused on her new record (one of my favorites so far this year) and eased into the night with her familiar songs that incorporate '90s style alternative blended with hushed vocals. Shredding away (on what I believe was an Annie Clarke guitar), Katherine Paul was in fine form and played to a pretty large crowd despite her early start time and as the hazy air around New York City thickened, so did the guitar swells which blanketed the audience with supreme fuzz. "Nobody" was the stunner of the set and built the momentum which allowed Paul and the rest of the group to really cut loose and embrace the layers of sound they so perfectly executed together on stage. 

Y La Bamba took the middle slot and with an impressive backing band (including guitar, drums, bass, saxophone, trumpet, and multiple singers) lead the crowd through a more stylized set of Mexican-inspired tunes that celebrated the mix of traditional tones with a bit of a rock flare. Playing a bit on the lighter side, the set wasn't as charged up as those that bookended the band, but the act played with great confidence even after admitting that they try not to take themselves too seriously. During a display of vulnerability, the band played a new song for the first time and nailed it, even as their nerves attempted to get the best of them. Powering through the humidity was a tough act for anyone, but the charm and grooving rhythms provided a stellar scene to beat the heat and set the stage for the headline set to follow.

Julia Jacklin took to the stage and immediately dove in to her warm guitar vibes that created a bustling nest for her emotionally heavy lyrics and almost distracted the crowd enough to get them moving and grooving to the relatively sad music. "I'm not quite sure what to do with my human body when I'm not playing guitar. I kind of thought it would come to me naturally, but I guess it hasn't" Jacklin remarked at one point, but even when she stuck solely to signing, you'd be hard-pressed to find someone in the crowd who didn't seem totally enthralled with her every move. While Y La Bamba at times felt soft in the vocal department, Jacklin came through with crystal clear pipes and really let her vocals take centerstage (although there were a few guitar solos that dazzled the crowd as well). Still supporting last year's PRE PLEASURE, Julia noted how this time around she was feeling much better than when she played Brooklyn Steel last fall, during which she suffered a bout of illness, and that this performance left her feeling rejuvenated, yet once again, based on the crowd's reaction, the show from last year still seemed pretty great in their minds. This is a sexy sad song she said before "Good Guy" and the crowd ate it up. "Eastwick" was met with a few false starts and stops as the crowd needed medical help, but aside from that, the band powered through the night with the greatest of ease and as things got to the end, the energy increased and the crowd became even more energized as the sun finally set over the park. "Lydia Wears a Cross" was a big moment that felt like the move towards some of the heavier, guitar-forward songs and really got the crowd pumped-up before a killer rendition of "Don't Know How to Keep Loving You" brought the house down. "We saved the rock songs for last" Jacklin informed the audience before the band erupted into the one-two punch of "I Was Neon" and "Pressure to Party," two of the biggest songs of the night that finally had the crowd rocking out with pure passion and the pressure to party fully lifted indeed. "You know how it works, we leave, you clap a lot and we come back. You've all been to gigs before!" Julia proclaimed as she got the crowd to cheer loudly, mocking the routine of an encore so the band could get straight to their last song of the night, a triumphant "Pool Party," which capped things off with a solid bang and brought the fantastic night to a close with absolute joy and elation.

Set list:

01 "Love, Try Not to Let Go"
02 "Be Careful With Yourself"
03 "Moviegoer"
04 "to Perth, before the border closes"
05 "Good Guy"
06 "Body"
07 "Turn Me Down"
08 "Ignore Tenderness"
09 "Eastwick"
10 "Lydia Wears a Cross"
11 "Don't Know How to Keep Loving You"
12 "I Was Neon"
13 "Pressure to Party"
14 "Pool Party"

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