When you walk into a venue and see the underage section taking up most of the floor, you can infer a few things. For one, you’ll probably be watching the show through the phone screen of the person in front of you. But for two, you’re definitely seeing a decent, if not great, up-and-comer. We all know teenage fans are forever mocked but are forever tastemakers, and the way they flock to Jeremy Zucker is the seal of approval.
Up first, though, was joan: Little Rock, Arkansas-based duo compared to flor, Great Good Fine Ok, and other infectiously sunny indie pop artists. The project comprises Alan Thomas and Steven Rutherford, and they’ve spent the last 18 months creating a audible/visual brand that has already garnered praise from Noisey and NME among others. They’re touring in support of a great EP (portra, released in July) and executing a smooth and solid performance of it for live shows.
Their whole catalog made it into the set at Valley Bar on Tuesday night, more or less, along with “brand brand new” tracks they asked permission before playing. “tokyo” was the one to get the room moving, but otherwise the crowd watched politely.
There’s nothing sadder than an artist who’s playing to an unappreciative audience, and it pains me to report that was the case for joan. These guys are incredibly talented, but their sound skews more rock than the artist they opened for. The crowd energy just wasn’t there, save for a handful of fans who showed up specifically for joan.
Everyone went wild, though, for Gen Z sad boy Jeremy Zucker. Currently on his first headlining tour, the New Jersey native has sold out venues across the country, bringing thousands of fans dying to hear his crossover pop tracks. Jeremy Zucker is an artist that can’t—and doesn’t want to—be pinned down to one genre. He’s a singer-songwriter, but he’s also a producer drawing from indietronica and hip-hop influences.
On stage, Jeremy Zucker is eager while also being casual about performing. He addressed the room as if he were talking to a group of friends, and the interactions made him even more smiley (if that were possible.) Quick anecdotes/back stories were interspersed between songs, like “This song is about a girl…It’s not a love song, but she’s in her head too much, and I want to tell her to stop being in her head so much.”
He also draws on the experiences of his fans for his lyrics, like on “all the kids are depressed” that gives voice to the fans that are coping with mental health issues. He’s a kid with stories to share and is hyper aware of his platform that he tries to use for good.
So, with that earnestness and good intentions, you can’t hold Jeremy Zucker’s fan base against him. Just don’t expect to get a front row spot at his show.
Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam