A Young Talent on the Rise

January 15th, 2013

Jake Bugg – The Bowery Ballroom – January 14, 2013

With the start of the New Year, I like to scour for new artists and inevitably ask my pals on the other side of the pond for recommendations. And my music-loving Brit threw out Jake Bugg, who she’d recently seen live. She described Bugg as a young chap, at the tender age of 18, who sounds like Bob Dylan. Curiously though, in a recent interview in The Telegraph, he stated, “Bob Dylan’s cool, you know, he’s great, but he’s not a major influence.” Bugg cites Donovan, the Beatles, Johnny Cash and Jimi Hendrix instead. Needless to say, I was interested.

It was a first for me to see absolutely no merchandise out before heading up the stairs of The Bowery Ballroom to witness the Nottingham wunderkind. Bugg’s self-titled debut album has not yet been released in the United States, but you couldn’t tell from Monday’s sold-out crowd. He descended onto the stage wearing a Fred Perry track jacket zipped up all the way and started with the rollicking “Kentucky,” which had onlookers stomping along from the start. He didn’t say much between songs except to express gratitude and to make brief introductions. Instead, Bugg let his music speak for him. Offering a small description for “Trouble Town” as a song about where he was from, he strummed his acoustic guitar while fans cheered and chanted the song’s title.

Upon its conclusion, a female attendee screamed, “My boyfriend,” which elicited an echo effect amongst female and male fans. After shredding on an electric guitar like his idol Hendrix on “Ballad of Mr. Jones,” Bugg took the stage solo for “Someone Told Me,” the oldie “Country Song” and “Simple as This,” which all brilliantly showcased his reedy voice against delicate guitar plucks. Fans perked up for the clap-happy “Two Fingers,” Johnny Cash–influenced “Taste It” and “Lightning Bolt,” which sounded like a more-rocking Moldy Peaches track. Saving the best for the last, Bugg encored with his first live performance of “Broken” and a cover of Cash’s “Folsom Prison Blues.” But no one left with any blues—only admiration and awe for this young talent only beginning to spark. —Sharlene Chiu