Patrick C. Keaveny

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Julien Baker at the Bluebird Theater

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I went and saw Julien Baker at the Bluebird on Monday.

Not a bad venue, to be honest. Kind of has that rustic feel to it, and reminds me of the kinds of venues I would go to when I was in high school. The venues where you spent $15 and maybe $20 for a shirt, hear some good music, and not have to stress about finding parking or if your seats are close enough to the stage or if you’re going to make it out on time to beat the traffic or if seeing this show where the sound equipment keeps breaking and cutting out and there’s a bright light shining right in your eye and the band only plays a few songs and then leaves without an encore and wonder to yourself whether the $90 you spent to get here is really worth it.

None of that.

In fact, it’s kind of the “Taco Bell Effect” applied to music venues. The venue may not be anything pristine, but for $15 you get a great show and some memories out of it, so it feels as though you can only get more than what you paid for.

That was certainly the case with Julien Baker. Man, can that girl sing. I felt like I got way more than I bargained for just to hear her belt out a cascade of powerful notes to accompany her equally powerful lyrics.

Baker definitely sings with her heart and soul. Whether she’s singing about the painful topics of rejection, heartbreak, substance abuse, or the fact that people leave you because of the very things you hate about yourself, there’s absolutely no phoning it in with her performance. She plays as if she is at her most vulnerable, which is likely why so many people seem to love her.

Baker definitely has the kind of lyrics that people who are dealing with issues can relate to. I myself feel like her music is a personification of my sadder, more depressed moments, which is why she is featured on my sad music playlist. I don’t think listening to sad music is sad in itself, I actually think that listening to sad music helps give you the strength to make it through the sadder moments, knowing that there is someone else out there that can give words to the way you feel. Which is certainly the case with Baker.

Throughout the set, people were screaming “We love you!” and “You kick ass!” between the breaks of her soulful melodies. And whenever she hit some ridiculously high note and held it for forever, the audience cheered.

Although one thing that kind of pissed me off about the audience were all the fucking bros in attendance.

I don’t have anything against the “bro” lifestyle, seeing as I’m pretty “bro-ey” at times. But what I don’t get is, why is it that your idea of a good time at a concert is getting absolutely smashed and screaming out a bunch of borderline-creepy things?

There were three dudes in front of me who were muscular, “woo”-ing every other minute, and were chugging beers like it was St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. By the third song they were on their fifth round. By the eighth song they were starting to sway like there was an ever so slight wind in this crowded venue. By the last song one of them literally collapsed against the wall and needed help from a stranger to get up.

What I don’t get is, what is the appeal of getting absolutely drunk off your gourds at a concert? I remember I used to think getting drunk at concerts was a lot of fun. And you know what I remember from those concerts? Not much. Not much at all. Except for maybe getting excited at a song I liked and screaming the lyrics as loud as I could, and meeting someone with a bunch of tattoos.

The last couple years, I’ve been drinking less and less at concerts, and I find the less drunk I am, the more I remember. So what exactly does someone gain by draining a bunch of beers as fast as possible while listening to the most soul-searching, melancholic, one-instrument kind of chill music?

Especially when those same dudes are randomly yelling things like “Play Go Home!” or “I’ll buy you a drink after!” For someone like Baker, whose music is very personal, soulful, and vulnerable, I don’t think it’s very respectful to answer her lyrical bravery with a bunch of drunken, creepy impositions.

Other than that though, Julien Baker killed it in every way possible. Definitely glad I got to see her play despite the bro-mania.

And for those of you who haven’t heard of Baker, why not check out my sad music playlist?