Back in 2005, I heard Juliette & the Licks for the first time.
The song was You’re Speaking My Language, and just before it shot forth from the radio, the show personality prefaced the track by describing the singer as – “Famed Hollywood star and general bad ass, Juliette Lewis”. To this day I still think this is most apt way to summarize Ms. Lewis. She is the General Bad Ass. I don’t mean the word general in terms of something that affects or concerns all or most people, places, or things. I mean she is General Bad Ass, a commander, a leader of high rank in the army of Badassdom.
Since 2005 I had been craving the experience of a General Bad Ass concert. I had seen the videos on Youtube. I had heard the praise of many that had been to the promised land and seen the wonderful intensity of Juliette in a live show; raw, unbridled, pure rock n’ roll.
Finally on Wednesday night, I was granted my wish.
Juliette & The Licks came to Vancouver, BC, to play to a sold out house out the Venue Nightclub. A one night only experience that I will cherish for many annums to come.
Over the past few days, as I reminisced about the evening, it all seemed like such a blur. The band came out on the stage, and then chaos happened, and then I left with a smile on my face.
After a few days I had had some time to digest what I saw, so I decided to attempt to put it into word.
First lets start with the entrance, which happened to be captured by Youtube user smitty10136
Take a peek at it right here:
The band stepped into that pumping thumping intro to Hot Kiss from the 2006’s album Four on the Floor, with a good amount of attitude.
Lewis rushes up to the mic, grabbing it with a sense of urgency, and starts roaring out the lyrics. I stood there in awe for minute as the chorus rang out, “Hot kiss, won’t you tell me what you miss, boy?/My love, you got me spinning like a wound up toy”. Then I remembered I also had to snap some pics for the article. So I pulled my camera up and snagged a couple shots.
This was one of that shots from that moment.
Very few artists seem to serve up a true connection with the rock n roll gods, but General Bad Ass sure the hell does.
Her musical possession is in the same realm as the iconic Iggy Pop and the legendary Matt Schultz of Cage The Elephant. She becomes the music on that stage, letting it course through her body and control her each and every movement. She works around the stage feverishly, and it gets the crowd fired up right along side of her.
But don’t think the band is some passive road crew, just there to keep you knee deep in Juliette Lewis’ romantic chaos. They are each interacting with the audience as well, and letting the music take them over in nearly the same way. Raising guitars in the air as they fire through gritty riffs, or bobbing and weaving to the rhythm with such intensity that they definitely reach their squat quotas for the month. The whole band showed up to play, it was beautiful.
As the set rode on into the night, I became hyper aware about the fact that it would have to end at some point.
I didn’t want that to happen. I wanted to live in the moment forever.
Watching the commander and chief of Bad Assery up their leading her troops, whipping her hair ferociously with the blues and reds of the stage lights reflecting off the beads of sweat dotting her face. Her movements were a little bit Jagger, and a little bit Iggy, but most of all they were all Lewis, and that is an important distinction. She is a product of her own tribulations, and her own musical exploration. She is the real deal.
Sitting there watching, all I could think was, “Fuck can this she rock!”.
I looked around through the sea of people, and I was not alone.
It was a sea of people lost in a moment, together.
Juliette & The Licks is one of those rare bands that seem to come around so infrequently that it just makes you cherish them so much more.
I have been listening to them for a little over a decade, and this was my first chance to catch them live.
I’m hoping next time they come around I can sit down and pick her brain. I would love see what makes her tick.
If you are reading this trying to figure out if you should buy a ticket to that show coming to the town you live in, the answer is a resounding yes.
Do not miss Juliette & The Licks.
I managed to take a few photos through the night, check them out.