Despite having the make-up to become the next chart-topping pop star, Jake Bugg has remained [relatively] under-the-radar since the release of his self-titled album in 2012. Sure, sure he has appeared on magazine covers including NME’s, and we’ve heard his music on popular show’s like HBO’s Girls (that scene when Marnie and Charlie get back together, amiright?!), yet still he hasn’t become a household name. Not par for the course given his greatest influences; Don McLean, The Beatles, Everly Brothers. What is it that is setting Jake Bugg apart from the rest? Oh, yeah – he’s actually really fucking good.
In 2013, a year after the public release of banger tunes “Two Fingers” and “Seen it All”, I went to see Bugg at Osheaga Music and Arts Festival in Montreal. I hadn’t given his album a full listen yet, and was mostly just familiar with his hits. Even so, he was among my top acts to see as I – along with so many others – knew there was something unique about him, I mean, obviously if you’re heard his voice you know there is something unique about the kid. 19 years old at the time, Bugg walks out onto the stage with a snarly look on his face and starts to play, in the middle of the afternoon to a decent crowd sounding like a young Bob Dylan. I left the show intrigued and amazed by this boy wonder, and have never looked back.
On Wednesday September 7th, Bugg played the Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver, BC. The performance was much like the first performance I saw 3 years ago. He still walked on to the stage fairly cantankerous, though now there was an underlying confidence. Jake Bugg has been playing festivals for years now and is certainly no rookie to the stage – a fact most prevalent when he really gets into shredding on his guitar.
Though only 22, I don’t know if it’s his level of confidence or the fact the he is an adept musician, but Jake Bugg has gained the respect of an older crowd. The Commodore Ballroom was filled of people of seemingly all ages, but pre-dominantly mid-20’s+. There was a man who could have been around 60 yelling out song titles, an older couple enjoying cocktails and singing along, and if you looked closely you would have seen a (now) grown-up Tom Felton among the show-goers.
The set-list, starting with “On My One” – off his most recent album release with the same title – moving into sing-a-long song “Two Fingers”, was fantastically crafted, weaving in and out of his self-titled album, Shangri-La and One My One. The crowd hung on to Bugg’s every drawl and grew anxious between songs.
Jake Bugg might be the kind of musician, who despite his lack of traditional stage presence (ie: limited interaction with the crowd) may be best suited for a live performance. Each of his albums are special, each quite different with varying influence. But his live performance, well that’s just un-paralleled to anything else.
Check out the song “On My One”