Julien Baker put out one of my favorite records of 2015. Sprained Ankle (6131 Records) soundtracked the last few months of my year with "Go Home" and "Vessels" receiving a lot of attention. Her spellbinding performance - punctuated with well-timed humor and banter - at Thursday's sold-out show was the first of two New York area shows. She'll play the small, but less intimate, Rough Trade records in Williamsburg on January 25th. And I'll be there as well.
But, I'm glad I caught her at the tiny Mercury Lounge because, despite its horrible lighting, a singer-songwriter of Baker's caliber, coupled with a packed venue makes for a special evening. Especially for a storied venue such as the Merc. Even if it was the early show. Working through all of her material from Sprained Ankle, Baker also trotted out a brilliant cover of Elliott Smith's "Big Nothing"
Opening for Baker was Eskimeaux, fronted by Gabrielle Smith, a member of the Brooklyn-based collective, The Epoch. I'm always happy when I discover new bands by way of the supporting acts. It does a couple things: 1, it justifies my decision to get to the venue early which - as I get older - happens a little less frequently. Not to mention that when I'm not on assignment I have even less motivation to get to the venue early. And two, I get turned on to more good music and have my faith restored that there's always going to be great tunes to be unearthed.
Eskimeaux's brand of indie pop (or bedroom pop or DIY pop or whatever) ticks all the boxes for me. I don't think they would be out of place at New York City Popfest for example. I've spent the last few blizzard-filled days absolutely crushing on 2015's O.K.