Julia Jacklin Tackles Relationships and Heavy Themes with Dreamy Indie Pop in Portland, OR (SHOW REVIEW)

On Wednesday, November 20th Julia Jacklin played a dreamy indie pop show to a sold out crowd at Portland’s Aladdin Theater, touring on her latest album Crushing. The album is clearly inspired by a breakup and chronicled heavily on the opening track “Body”, which tells the story of her leaving her boyfriend after they are kicked off a flight for him lighting up a cigarette in the airplane bathroom. The theme of her taking back her self identity and her body is a constant and you can feel the heaviness in an album that shows her self realization.

The show opened with the previously mentioned “Body” and was followed by “Lead Light” from her first EP Don’t Let The Kids Win. Julia shows a beautiful restrained power in the way she approaches a live performance. Onstage at the Aladdin, she at times quietly strummed and harmonized while at others furiously jamming with her band and often found a middle ground with a calm and powerful presence. Julia treated us to a solo rendition of “Turn Me Down”, another song from Crushing where, staying true to the theme of the album, she sings about being with someone that you don’t see a future with and wishing they would just turn you down so you don’t have to go through all of the pain of breaking up with them. She passionately repeated these painful words “…please just turn me down…” to the theater and the momentum built with her voice and the playing of her guitar until crashing like a wave with the last line “maybe I’ll see you in the supermarket sometime.” Isn’t love grand? 

Before playing the song “Convention”, she told the audience of an interaction she had when she was younger that inspired the song. She was performing at an open mic night and having trouble tuning her guitar when an older “gentleman” approached her asking if she wanted to go back to his place to fix the tuning issue on her guitar. She thanked him but turned him down, palpably aware that he had other intentions, to which he replied, “I thought you were serious about becoming a musician.” The story and the song showed, again, her experiences of men trying to control her, her body, and her sense of self worth. She encored with a dose of millennial nostalgia, playing Avril Lavigne’s “I’m With You” and allowing us to picture a teenaged Julia sitting on her bed and singing along while lamenting a crush that never came to be. The childish crushes, the young woman’s deflections of unwanted male attention, and the adult Julia ending an unhealthy relationship all help to shed a light on the playful irony of calling a breakup album Crushing. Though, in many ways, every breakup leads to a new crush and on Wednesday night Portland she found an entire audience crushing on her. Julia Jacklin and her band are currently finishing up a West Coast tour before heading to Europe and then back home to Australia. They should not be missed. 

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