“This album could’ve been called ‘Lonerism.’”
Juliana Hatfield has had a way with words during her pandemic concert series, which started a couple months ago. Once a month, she plays a full album all the way through, during a livestream on YouTube. This lead-off quote was one of my favourite things she said during today’s solo electric performance of her 1995 album, Only Everything, which also happens to by my favourite.
I love this quote because it speaks directly to one of the main reasons I fell in love with her music in my early 20s: because I relate so much to that “lonerism.” It reminds me of walking around York University from class to class and seeing a guy wearing a concert t-shirt from the tour supporting this album. It made me happy to see a fellow fan, but I also knew that I’d never talk to that guy unsolicited, because of that “lonerism.”
I didn’t even see that tour. I didn’t know anyone else who was as into her as I was, so I thought that meant I couldn’t go. I’d later drag friends to her shows, and they wound up enjoying themselves. And at a certain point I felt okay with going to shows alone if I couldn’t find anyone to go with.
So, in some sense, today’s set replaced that missing experience in my life. Sure, I saw her play a bunch of those songs when I finally saw her live a couple of times during the next tour, around 1997, for the Please Do Not Disturb EP.
There are so many beautifully melancholic chords on this album that you just don’t hear anywhere else, and this album hosts some of the best and most inventive guitar playing she’s ever recorded. Not to mention some of her greatest raucous rock songs. So it was a lot of fun to see her playing that stuff, using a loop pedal so she could play her solos over a rhythm guitar track.
Oh, that loop pedal. She had some technical difficulties with that in the early going, plus some tuning issues and monitor issues, not to mention the cold she was dealing with. But after a few songs, she pretty much slayed all those demons.
Here are a few of my favourite moments and quotes:
- “Bottles and Flowers” was gorgeous and raw.
- She treated us to a bit of Soundgarden’s “Outshined” while she’d tuned down to drop-d, and later to the riff from Heart’s “Barracuda,” just for fun. There was also a piece of Dinosaur Jr.’s great song “Raisans,” which includes the lyric “only everything.” And I believe the awesome album it came from, You’re Living All Over Me, largely inspired her ferocious sound on Only Everything.
- More of Juliana’s way with words: “I think I have the power to make everyone really uncomfortable.”
- When she played a section of “Congratulations” “one more time” over and over and over again.
- Her guitar tone was amazing throughout: gritty and grungy and crunchy.
- More of her way with words: “You’d think someone like me would have her shit together by now.” This was after saying that she thinks that it takes playing the whole album in order to play the whole album right.
- And another: “It’s so pretentious when songs end on the correct ending.”
- “Simplicity is Beautiful” is my favourite song of hers, and one of my two favourite songs of all time by anyone. I don’t think I’ve ever seen her play it live, in person. So I stopped taking notes for my review and just let it soak in. It was gorgeous and never fails to give me chills.
- As part of her encore, she played The Police’s “Hungry for You,” with its French lyrics, inspired by previously playing her song “Fleur de Lys,” with its French lyrics.
- We were also treated to what I think was a b-side from the era (didn’t catch the title) and “Everybody Loves Me But You,” a fun song from her first album.
- The most brilliant of endings: After answering a few questions from the chat, and musing about which album to do next, she did a wonderfully weird little dance and walked off camera.
Check it out while it’s still on YouTube: