You know that feeling when you’re in a crowded concert arena, stadium or even just a full bar, waiting for a musical event to begin and the lights go out? Your heart starts racing and your adrenaline kicks in as you’re ready to see your favorite artist live for the first time. While that exact feeling might still be on pause, the Audiotree live stream of Julien Baker’s STAGED broadcast gave a feeling that was just as close. Fans in the generated chat created an atmosphere that was chill and comfortable. The virtual audience truly made the best of the evening with each other, even though they were strangers; music has this amazing power to unify people through the commonality of chords and melodies, and that’s exactly what happened here tonight.
On March 25th, Audiotree hosted a STAGED show of a Julien Baker broadcast featuring special guests, Mini Trees. This experience felt like one was hanging out with their friends in a coffee shop, with live music in the background, while at the same time relaxing at home listening to their favorite vinyl records. Whether people were in the mood to fall in love or to experience heartbreak, it was like each song had something in it for everyone.
Starting off the show with very chill and relaxing vibes, Mini Trees had a compilation of songs ready to go. They sung “Slip Away” (Slip Away, 2020), “Spring” (a new song), “Want Me To Stay” (Slip Away, 2020) and “Honestly” (Slip Away, 2020). They had a very relaxing singer-songwriter feel to them, as well as the classic chill lofi beats tones. Lofi beats are beats composed of different aesthetic choices, sometimes deliberate but usually often made in unconventional ways. Mini Trees gave a strong performance from what looked like a cozy and intimate recording booth, and it was a great way to warm up the audience in the chat for what was to come from Julien Baker and her band.
With a very easy and seamless transition, after the few songs from Mini Trees, the recorded video of Julien Baker and her band began. They were all placed on a stage that looked like something people would see in a crowded bar atmosphere and playing all your favorite album deep cut songs. From start to finish, the talent flowing throughout the room was immense. The chill and relaxing tone quality that Mini Trees had established was present throughout Julien Baker’s entire set.
Opening her show with the song “Faith Healer” from the 2021 album Little Oblivions, Julien Baker showcased her soft yet very powerful voice. Joining her on stage was her very talented band; they had that indie and rock alternative sound that sounded like a mix between The Fray and Tash Sultana—both very vocal and technical in their musical approach. That said, even with Julien Baker’s distinct voice and style, it was a very soft and relaxing evening with pops of musical intensity.
Heading into the next song, “Heatwave” from Little Oblivions (2021), there was a lyrical quality that really told a story. The softness in her voice and her relaxing, rich sound was very authentic, and people could tell that Baker sang with her soul, and this came from experience. This song in the set gave the idea of a more acoustic and unplugged kind of session between her and her band, that was the idea present throughout the entire show, and it was so easy to vibe with the whole time. It was during this song that people in the chat started opening up to each other more, and even the Audiotree host had commented how lovely the fans were.
The following song Baker performed with her band was “Favor,” also from Little Oblivions (2021). Continuing that feeling of calmness, this song also had a quality to it that made it relaxing and pleasant to listen to. The album Little Oblivions (2021) shows off her talented range from this relaxing state to the technically distinct chords and melodies created by her band. The song “Favor” sounded like an ending credits for a coming-of-age movie where one’s favorite main character finally accomplished their goal and learned the lesson to help shape them into who they want to be. There was a simple fade out to the end of the song that left the listener craving more.
Moving through the fun and alternative indie rock evening, “Turn Out the Lights,” from the 2017 album Turn Out The Lights, began as one of the slower songs of the evening. The vocals and supporting guitar made the song feel very personal and intimate. As with most of the other songs, there were a few harmonies in the opening verse of the song that were spotlighted brilliantly, just backed by the guitar. As the song progressed, it built lyrically for that great “this is it” moment.
One of the songs that fans had been hoping for since the very beginning of the stream was the 2019 song “Tokyo,” from the EP Tokyo. From the beginning few chords, fans knew right away that she was about to perform one of their favorite songs. The first few chords were soft and muted, and fans were typing the lyrics in the chat as fast as they could. It was a great virtual representation of how genuinely happy and excited they were for this one moment.
Julien Baker and her band have that special and powerful quality about them that brings each song they sing to the next level. Each song was different, yet fit the brand of the band so well and made people just want to keep listening. Each moment was filled with whimsical intensity and beauty.
Another song that the fans were very hoping Baker would perform was the song “Song in E” from Little Oblivions (2021). This one was different and just as special as the rest. This song was Baker alone with the keyboard, and she sang the lyrics right from her heart. Her band had walked off the stage to let her take this moment and run with it, and that’s exactly what she did. Fans in the chat were commenting about how much this song means to them and how amazing it was that she played it. A standout comment was: “this is something I know I need to experience live one day.” When the moment comes, Julien Baker will be ready to deliver with her fierce vocals.
Just as quickly as the show began, it seemed like they were performing their final song of the evening. Closing out the show was the song “Ziptie” from Little Oblivions (2021). This song, like a few of the others, began with a slower and more relaxing few melodies. It was lyrically stacked with metaphors and stories. No one knew this was the final song of the evening, and then Baker and the band hit everyone with a strong rock instrumental break at the end of it, and it closed the song and the show perfectly. It was that great pop of excitement that people would want from a finale performance.
This show was very well thought out and put together from start to finish. From the Mini Trees performance to the entire set of Julien Baker, everything fit together so well. The fans in the chat interacted and became close with one another throughout the night, which is something special that can be created during these live stream moments. While being so far apart, quite literally all over the globe watching this performance, this was a moment where everyone was together.
Photo Credit: Kayln Oyer