Wednesday June 30, 2004

Juliana Hatfield at Stubb's BBQ, Austin, TX.

At long last, Jessica and I attended our very first Juliana Hatfield show last night.

Stubb’s BBQ in Austin is kind of a small venue, but I suppose I prefer it that way. There’s a kind of intimacy there that you don’t find just anywhere. The lack of a backstage area meant that we saw Juliana making her way through the crowd several times before the show.

There was a merch table set up out on the patio, and while I held on to our spot next to the stage, Jessica headed over to talk to Juliana and to get an autograph or two. A little over a year ago, just before I got married, I was laid off from my job. It was a pretty stressful time. Not all of my time could be spent job hunting; after a week, I had pretty much felt out every opportunity I could and was waiting for callbacks. So to keep my mind off of my troubles, I began to work on some ideas that I had been tossing around in my head for a while. What emerged were two concert poster designs, one for Juliana Hatfield and one for her band, Some Girls. There seemed to be a severe lack of cool concert posters for these two acts, and I wanted to fill the void — at least on my own walls. When Jessica and I flew to see Some Girls in Chicago last year, I foolishly forgot to take the posters for the Girls to see and sign. This time, I made no such mistake. In fact, to sweeten the project, I changed the information on the poster to reflect last night’s show instead of the fictional dates and location that had previously been on there.

I was a little nervous as to what Juliana might think of the artwork, but I guess it went over as well as it possibly could. Apparenty, she loved it and very much appreciated that we brought an extra copy for her to take with her. And I now have an autographed copy of my own artwork, which is mucho cool.

Soon after The Damnwells (who were quite good) cleared the stage, Juliana’s band came out and set up in record time. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a band set up so fast. Juliana came onstage last, plugged in, checked her tuner, and strummed the opening riff for “Jamie’s in Town.” Her guitar sounds unbelievably awesome in the dictionary definition of the word. I think I got to see and hear more of her true guitar virtuosity at the Some Girls show — because as a three-piece band, she was the only guitar player — but I was still truly impressed throughout the whole 90-minute set. I got the feeling that every night she took the opportunity to tear into new ideas and look for the happy surprises that come from just “winging it.” All of the songs sounded amazing, but Juliana’s older material definitely got the more cheers. Songs like “What A Life” and “Mabel” hadn’t been played regularly in her live sets for close to seven years, and it was clear that the crowd was glad to be hearing some of the vintage Juliana tunes. The band seemed to be in good spirits, with guitarist Joe Keefe inadvertently launching everyone into a silly rendition of a portion of “Wonderwall” which disintegrated as Juliana’s lyrics all became “la la la la la…” It was obviously not a rehearsed number, but it was an entertaining side note.

The setlist was as follows:

  • Jamie’s in Town
  • Tourist
  • Feel It
  • Robot City
  • Somebody Is Waiting For Me
  • Necessito
  • Don’t let Me Down
  • What A Life
  • Mabel
  • Get In Line
  • Because We Love You
  • The Prettiest Girl
  • My Sister
  • Your Eyes
  • Sunshine
  • Universal Heartbeat
  • My Enemy
  • Tomorrow Never Comes

All in all, it was a tremendously rocking show. Not even the unbelievably drunk girl and her dipstick of a boyfriend in the front row could ruin the encore, “Tomorrow Never Comes.” As the last lines of the song were sung, Juliana continued on for a few bars, singing “That’s all I have to say… That’s all there is to say…” over and over. And then it was over.

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