Review: Juliana Hatfield in my living room, Blood release party edition, May 8, 2021

Normally when I write these, the shows are tied to older albums that bring back memories and I write about those memories, because this blog is all about memories induced by music. But the only way I could have memories of Juliana Hatfield’s new album, Blood, would be if I had a time machine, listened to the album, lived a little and created memories around the album, then travelled back to today and wrote about the memories I’d make in the future. Unless anyone can direct me to Doc Brown and Marty McFly, that’s just not possible.

Also, side note, I feel like a bad blogger because I didn’t write about her last livestream a couple weeks ago, on In Exile Deo. I was having a busy, shitty day and wasn’t able to watch it on the day. But part of the reason for all that was because I’d gotten my first COVID-19 vaccination the day before and felt like shit (but was thrilled to finally have it in me). All that being said, I’m just going to focus on highlights and awesome quotes this time around.

Honestly, this was as much a stand-up comedy routine as a concert. She’s often funny, usually in a very self-deprecating way, but this is probably the funniest of her livestreams so far.

  • She introduced the show saying she’s going to play “blood themed” songs. I had assumed this would be a playthrough of the entire album, like she’s done with her other albums in these livestreams, so that was a bit of a surprise, but I enjoyed the retrospective, combined with the four or five new songs she played. And I get her concern that many people haven’t heard the full album yet (myself included).
  • “And now I’m gonna do possibly the bloodiest of all the blood songs. Because this one’s about actual bloody blood. Like, genetic blood.” I was expecting a song from Blood. But then she played “My Sister.” That was one brilliant musical punchline! But there would be a very bloody song from Blood coming up later.
  • “I think this is the first time in my life as a musician playing shows that I have not written a setlist. So far it’s not a total disaster.” Before long, she would assign a percentage to the disaster value of the proceedings.
  • It was a really a career-spanning set, going all the way back from her Blake Babies days (“Cesspool”) and her first solo album (“Nirvana” was a fun treat) to today.
  • Speaking of her first album, she said she’s hoping to do a livestream of Hey Babe in June! Psyched for that!
  • On struggling to play the new song, “Gorgon”: “I can’t do this one right now. My body’s rejecting it.” When she finally finished, she said, “That was a disaster,” but it sounded great to me. She then clarified that it was a “67% disaster.” Not true, but a funny way to put it. She circled back to it later and it was gorgeous. 0% disaster.
  • Then she decided to switch guitars to the pink First Act to “clear the air.”
  • It was clearly in an open tuning. Open G, I assume. That allowed her to play tracks like “Evan” and “Swan Song,” before switching back to the new black Yamaha.
  • “Wow, I’m kinda feeling like maybe it was a little bit… maybe focusing on Blood is not, like, the greatest idea. It’s getting a little bit… kind of a little bit of a downer. What was I thinking?” I’m not sure why she was so down on the new stuff. Or was she referring to the “blood” theme of the set? Either way, it was not a downer at all.
  • She decided to slow down “Broken Doll” mid-song after saying, “Slow it down.” That was fun.
  • When referring to her capo-placement technique: “Everyone has an opinion about everything… except for the people who don’t have an opinion.” That’s a classic, Yogi Berra-esque “It ain’t over ‘til it’s over” kind of quote.
  • In the middle of the old b-side “Anemia”: She sang the lyric, “Make love to your monogram.” Then she stopped playing and said, “Okay, that’s a really weird line. It makes me really uncomfortable now to sing it. It’s weird.” Then sang it again and said, “Ew.” Which was hilarious. By the way, her voice sounded amazing on this song.
  • She joked about having a guru, but then said, “If anyone could advise me spiritually right now, I could use it.”
  • New song “Had a Dream” was hilariously angry in a super dark way, featuring lyrics about dreaming about stabbing an unnamed traitorous person in the neck repeatedly, being four horses drawing and quartering that person, then being a machine with rotating blades sawing the person in half. I wonder which unnamed orange ex-president that could be about? That was a fun one.
  • Her overemphasis of the word “blood” in “Kellyanne” was pretty funny.
  • At the end, she thanked us “for showing up, for listening, for tolerating.” Always self-deprecating. Because, of course, her fans love every second of these, warts and all. And, for me, the warts aren’t even warts. They’re more like distinct, beautiful little freckles.
  • She did an impromptu thing at the end where she knelt in front of an iPad and looked at fan questions and comments, which inspired some funny banter with someone behind the scenes. Juliana thought albums still came out on Tuesdays, which hasn’t been the case for a few years, and a muffled voice from the background kept shouting “Friday!” And that begat a reminiscence about Happy Days and Laverne & Shirley being on TV on Tuesdays and Donny & Marie on Fridays. Which, in turn, begat a beautiful, but brief, rendering of a Marie Osmond song, first a capella, then she picked up her guitar and tried to figure out the chords. I have no idea what it was, but it made me think, not entirely tongue-in-cheek, that her next covers album should be Marie Osmond songs.
  • She turned herself into a pretzel to show us a yoga pose. Pretty impressive. Then she said, “Alright class…” and proceeded to show us some more. I think more rock concerts should end with a yoga session.

If you haven’t seen it yet, enjoy the show while it lasts:

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