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The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

Pure pleasure from Julia Jacklin’s ‘Pre Pleasure’ tour

Jacklin brings strong vocals, eccentric instruments and serious string work to the Basement East.
Claire Gatlin
Julia Jacklin performs at the Basement East, as photographed on Sept. 12. (Hustler Multimedia/Claire Gatlin)

Julia Jacklin has always been able to cut deep with her lyrics, crafting songs that are utterly specific to her experiences yet still appealing to universal feelings of love, loss and shame. In Jacklin’s performance on Sept. 12 at the Basement East, she showcased her ability to elicit these emotions in an audience, playing angelic ballads, belting rock songs and bringing us along every turn of her emotionally charged musical ride. 

Jacklin is an indie folk singer/songwriter from Sydney, Australia. In 2014, she formed the band Phantastic Ferniture with a few others, and in 2016 her single “Pool Party” off of “Don’t Let the Kids Win” earned widespread acclaim. From there, she began touring around the world and releasing new music, most recently with her studio album “Pre Pleasure.” The introspective project has been described by Pitchfork as seeking “a balance between thinking about life and actually living it.” 

Jacklin’s guitar player Mimi Gilbert stepped in to open the show because the original opener contracted COVID-19. Gilbert set the mood for the night with folksy acoustic tracks toeing the line between Maggie Rogers and First Aid Kit. With similar contemplative and laid-back lyricism to Jacklin, combined with impressive guitar skills, Gilbert impressed the crowd with her songs “Society’s a Mansion” and “Ireland Song.” Gilbert’s performance was everything we’d hope for and expect from East Nashville on a Monday night: relaxed and unmistakably indie.  

After a brief intermission, Jacklin made her way onto the stage with the melancholic ballad “Too In Love to Die.” This opening performance was Jacklin’s live debut of the song, making us the first audience to be graced with the celestial, haunting lyrics about how love keeps people alive. By opening with this number, Jacklin immediately invited us into her poetic mind and set a contemplative tone for the night. 

From there, Jacklin turned things upliterally. She asked for a volume increase in her mic and dove into her rock tune “Head Alone.” The song deals with a complex relationship and Jacklin’s assertion that “I don’t wanna be touched all the time / I raised my body up to be mine.” Moments later, Jacklin began a subdued story of an experience with an ex-boyfriend with her song “Body.” While the first song is fast-paced and guitar-heavy and the second is slower and quieter, both describe similar stories. They narrate Jacklin’s experiences as she explores her relationship with her body, at times claiming it as purely her own, yet at other times feeling distinctly detached from it. In sharing her vulnerable stories, Jacklin encourages listeners to be more thoughtful and open about the way we view our body image and interact with others. 

In the second half of the show, Jacklin dove into some of her most streamed songs off of “Pre Pleasure.” In “Lydia Wears a Cross,” Jacklin sang about her religious upbringing and danced along to lyrics about “praying for Princess Diana” and “listening to Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack.” As she swayed across the stage, she intermittently ran her hand across the chimes, creating an altogether angelic feeling. For “Love, Try Not to Let Go,” she pulled out claves to hit to the beat and sang about keeping herself from floating away. In a moment that can only be described as music history in the making, Jacklin belted out the song with smoky green and red lights behind her. Again, although these songs are different musically, they both evoke feelings of nostalgia—from memories of Sunday school to holding onto the echos of adolescence. Through this, Jacklin encouraged us to consider the ways we have come of age, changed and left the past behind.

“Any questions?” She asked before continuing. “No? Ok.” 

Jacklin finished the show with some of her crowd-pleasers. A self-described rock number, “Pressure to Party,” allows listeners to see inside Jacklin’s mind and thoughts following a breakup. She sings about all the pressures she faced to quickly get back to real life and “to not let the inside of my mind spill onto the floor for our friends to find.” In this rollercoaster of emotions, audience members could easily relate to the feelings of pressure to feel and act fine after something difficult. With the electric guitar blaring and disco ball spinning overhead, we all got the opportunity to sing and dance those pressures away. 

Luckily for us, Jacklin wasn’t quite finished. The Basement East was blessed with another live debut with the performance of “Less of a Stranger.” The song is one of her most emotional and vulnerable—which is saying something—and tells the story of Jacklin’s relationship with her mother. Solo on stage, with only an acoustic guitar, Jacklin sang about wishing her mother was less of a stranger. After that poignant moment, Jacklin finished the show out with her album’s closer “End Of a Friendship.” Some have praised Jacklin’s ability to croon like the greats—Amy Winehouse and Johnny Cash—and she showcased that ability in this final song. The song exudes the feeling of floating away and capped the night perfectly, as the concert drifted to an end and we prepared to head home.

During her performance at the Basement East, Jacklin proved her ability to bring the vulnerability and thoughtfulness of her songs to the stage. Her ability to connect with the audience gave us a cathartic moment to feel all that Jacklin sings about—from her body image to her relationships to her joy and sadness. In both her lyrics and stage presence, Jacklin allowed herself to be seen and understood by the audience. With her powerful lyrics, indie-folk songs and sincere demeanor, this Australian fits right into the Nashville scene.

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About the Contributor
Claire Gatlin
Claire Gatlin, Former Life Editor
Claire Gatlin ('24) is a student in Peabody College studying human and organizational development and political science. In her free time, she enjoys going to concerts, reading and rollerblading. You can reach her at [email protected].
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