Editor’s Note: The setlist for this show was incorporated into the text of the review. The songs are listed in the order they were performed and are in bold CAPS. to see the full photo gallery, CLICK HERE


LOS ANGELES, CA- I’ve been a fan of Julien Baker ever since I caught her early afternoon set at FYF back in 2016. When I found out that she was the opener for Conor Oberst at the Greek, I basically submitted my press/photo request to Conor’s  camp so that I could catch Julien perform. When I found out that she was headlining a gig in downtown Los Angeles, I  was able to catch her perform I I found out that Julien Baker was scheduled for a headlining gig in downtown Los Angeles, I made it a point to clear any “APPOINTEMENTS” for the day to make sure I could attend the show.

There’s something so humanly vulnerable about Julien’s music that lures me in like a bee to a flower. I saw someone wearing a t-shirt at the show that read, “Sad Songs Make Me Feel Better”. I laughed when I saw it, but it’s true. When my heart is broken, and “I TURN OUT THE LIGHTS” in my bachelor’s apartment, it’s sad music that helps me deal with the pain. It’s cathartic in a way- at least for me- to allow the beautiful pain in heartbreaking music to act as “FUNERAL PYRE” to combust all of the feelings that a heart can hardly contain.

It’s adolescent in a way. It’s the kind of feeling most of us had as an awkward kid eating lunch alone on the school’s “BLACKTOP”. Sitting there wishing we could shout from our lungs the feeling of sadness and isolation we were then feeling. Then again, it’s not so adolescent when you think about it. I’m an adult. I still get that feeling sometimes. Face it, “EVERYBODY DOES”.

But 90% of the time, we’ll hold those feeling back. We keep it welled up within our souls, too afraid to speak our truths to let others know how we feel for fear of alienating and pushing away others as if we spoke with “SOUR BREATH”. And that fight with the self, a fight of sanity against restraint, despite any self assurances that you’ll get where you want to one day, is often a fruitless exercise. It’s like “SHADOWBOXING” an enemy, because even though you know the shadow is there, you’ll never be able to make any contact with it because it’s something that simply isn’t tangible.

But Julien’s music helps us with those battles. When she shares her soul with us using her steady soprano voice, when she pierces the silent tension with an emotive wail, we share her catharsis and experience an emotional outpouring without having to say a word. She’s a panacea for “EVERYTHING THAT HELPS YOU SLEEP” at night.

Unlike gaudy “TELEVANGELIST”s, surrounded by supplicants and choirs, who preach non-sensical fables to no end, Julien stands alone, for the most part, on stage to unambiguously and eloquently share her personal stories, fears and hopes through simple melodies. It’s over an hour of emotional narrative and I’m in awe that this diminutive woman is able to perform this kind of outpouring on a nightly basis. But I suppose even Julien is like athlete, competing to end, despite cuts, bruises and “SPRAINED ANKLE”s to deliver the desired outcome. In this case, empathy and connection.

On this evening,  the audience sitting in awe of Julien’s performance “REJOICE”d and reveled with every note, hanging on every lyric she sang. When Julien is confessing, we are confessing with her. When she is venting, we are venting with her. And despite all the pain that we share with her as she sings, despite that feeling of life’s “CLAWS IN YOUR BACK” trying to pull you away from the light, we come away from the performance “HURT LESS” than when we came in.

So, yeah … I may have laughed when I saw the “Sad Songs Make Me Feel Better” t-shirt, but it’s true. Sad songs DO make me feel better. That night, after a long and … pardon my french … shitty year in all respects, it was as if I was baptized by music, and had the gospel of Julien help me release some of the pain and regret that I harbored over time.

Tomorrow will always bring with it uncertainty. We hope for the best, but expect the worst. There’s not much else to do but “GO HOME” and get ready for the next day. But regardless of what the future holds, if your days feel a blue, and you need a little “SOMETHING” to get you through the rough times, or need someone to commiserate your mood, listening to some of Julien’s music would be my recommendation.

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Editor’s Note: The setlist for this show was incorporated into the text of the review. The songs are listed in the order they were performed and are in bold CAPS. to see the full photo gallery, CLICK HERE