Julien Baker Dazzled and Awed at Observatory North Park
It’s been seven years since Tennessee-based songwriter Julien Baker released her debut album “Sprained Ankle.” The gut-wrenching debut utilized minimal instrumentation and guitar work while conveying grandiose emotion with harrowing lyricism and delivery. Signing with Matador shortly after, Baker began to sonically branch out. She started diving into a deeper soundscape while continuing to explore heavy topics like faith, sexuality, and shame. Her latest album, “Little Oblivions,” touches on many of those themes, while sounding like her “fullest” album yet. The album features Baker playing guitar, bass, and drums with additional vocal help from fellow Boygenius-ers Phoebe Bridgers and Lucy Dacus. On November 2nd, Baker and her touring band took the stage for an incredible night at The Observatory in North Park.
To kick the show off was Chicago three-piece indie group Dehd. Songs shifted from sounding like classic 90’s indie tracks to summery and beachy ballads reminiscent of bands like Best Coast and Wavves. When Baker took the stage, she wasted no time delving into tracks from the new record. She performed the initial tracks Hardline and followed it with other tracks like Bloodshot, Favor, Relative Fiction, and Highlight reel. Only Shadowboxing from Turn out the Lights snuck into the first part of the set. The composition of newer tracks stood out in a live setting, seeing as things like major crescendos and pounding drums and percussion were aspects I never think about when I think of Julien Baker’s music, even after hearing the last record. She followed these tracks with the title track of Sprained Ankle, along with Something and Rejoice. It was awesome seeing Baker play these tracks with as much gusto as she did in 2015. It was impossible to notice how different her old songs sound to her current and it personally made me want to re-listen to her discography to note the differences and progression over her career.
The rest of the set mostly comprised off of tracks from the last two records, altogether playing twenty tracks spanning over about ninety minutes. You can catch Baker as she continues her Little Oblivions tour across the PNW and central United States.