Memphis native and one-time Nashville resident Julien Baker has, since her 2015 debut, become an exciting and celebrated new force on the national scene, hailed by everyone from punk zines to NPR for her earnest, incredible style and unparalleled songwriting. We’ve watched her grow from the DIY punk scene to become one of the most important singer-songwriters of her generation, and couldn’t be more thrilled for the bountiful and incredibly well-deserved success Baker has experienced over the past couple of years. Tonight, Nov. 30, Julien returns to the city where her solo career kicked off, to play her largest Music City headliner yet at Marathon Music Works. Joined by David Bazan, whose resonant, emotional work has surely influenced artists like Baker, as well as exciting local newcomers Fever Blush, this feels like not just one of the most important shows of the fall, but of all of 2017. Tickets are still available here, and if you somehow still need convincing, read on below.
If you’re dialed into the indie scene, then you’ve very likely heard of buzzworthy breakout singer Julien Baker, whose sprawling, sad full-length debut, Sprained Ankle, was ranked among 2015’s best releases (and for good reason; it’s incredible). What you might not know, however, is that Baker is local, or at least local-ish. Raised in Memphis, the 22-year-old singer-songwriter relocated to Murfreesboro to attend MTSU a couple years back (and presumably put school on hold when her career took off), and cut her teeth in the Nashville scene fronting the group Forrister (formerly The Star Killers), who we frequently wrote about in recent years when they often served as support for under the radar emo, indie, and pop punk shows. Since stepping out on her own, after pursuing a new crop of songs she didn’t feel were good fit for the band, Julien has been met with widespread critical acclaim. She recorded her first solo LP with Michael Hegner at Matthew E. White’s Spacebomb Studios in Richmond, VA, the same place follow former MTSU student and long-time Nashvillian Natalie Prass crafted her eponymous debut, in the summer of 2014. Upon its release, Baker was subject to unprecedented, glowing praise from all realms of national press, soon finding herself on prominent festival lineups, television appearances, and on bigger and bigger stages, often with the likes of huge names like Ben Gibbard, The Decemberists, Frightened Rabbit, Conor Oberst, Belle & Sebastian, and Paramore. Baker’s sophomore LP and first for Matador Records, the recently-released Turn Out the Lights, is every bit the emotionally resonant, sparse, nuanced, and gut-wrenching masterpiece of predecessor, treading the waters between a punk and emo upbringing and a penchant for crafting deconstructed, lyrically-driven, slow-burn compositions that are equally beautiful and devastating. Songwriters will the talent of Julien Baker only emerge a couple of times in a generation, and her return to the place where she kicked off this chapter of her career, for her biggest headlining show yet, is without a doubt one of the year’s most important events.
Though he will forever be inextricably linked with his breakout indie/emo project Pedro the Lion (which is more or less a pseudonym in the same way Conor Oberst essentially is Bright Eyes), Seattle indie rocker David Bazan has had an even longer and more prolific run under his own name for the past decade (and, of course, briefly fronted under appreciated project Headphones in the mid-’00s). Still a champion of the DIY, frequently plotting entire tours of living rooms and house shows, Bazan’s earlier work was especially influential in inspiring a slow, emotional, resonant style of emo and indie rock, a style that dominated the underground scene in the early 2000s. With his later work, David has kept the dynamic, earnest core a constant, but has also experimented with elements of folk and synth rock, remaining a prolific force and creative powerhouse beloved by a rabid and enduring fanbase. While he’s billed under his own name for this show, some proper Pedro appearances are on the books for next month, and word on the street is that he’ll be resurrecting that banner for awhile going forward (don’t fret tonight though- a David Bazan show is still essentially a Pedro show, and vice vera; it’s more of a chapter marker than a distant project). We couldn’t think of a better match for Julien Baker, and needless to say, you don’t want to miss Bazan’s set!
Formerly known as Lean (and, for a brief time before that, Slowtalker), local up and comers Fever Blush are something of a Nashville DIY supergroup. Fusing dreamy, lo-fi, indie pop sensibilities with a clear love of shoegaze, punk, and alt rock, the band, who count members of local favorites Daddy Issues, Beer Head, and more among their ranks, function as a group of writers, crafting songs as a unit and spreading the weight evenly. Though they’ve been an active part of the underground live scene for a couple of years, frequenting houses, dives, and DIY spaces all over town, Fever Blush had, so far, only released a handful of demos, until earlier this week, when we premiered their debut EP, Remember, Forget, which officially drops today in conjunction with this show. This guys are the real deal, so show up early and see what they’re about!
Julien Baker, David Bazan, and Fever Blush will perform tonight, Nov. 30 at Marathon Music Works. The show is all ages, begins at 8:30 p.m. (doors at 7 p.m.), and tickets are available for $25.