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Jake Bugg headlines modern-day Americana showcase at Fox Theater Oakland

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Photos by Marc Fong // Written by Molly Kish //

Jake Bugg with Albert Hammond Jr., The Skins //
Fox Theater Oakland — Oakland, CA
Janaury 23, 2014 //

A stacked bill of guitar-driven talent commanded the stage at Fox Theater Oakland this past Thursday night. Opening the show Brooklyn based powerhouses, The Skins and Albert Hammond Jr. ignited the crowd for a headlining set from the nineteen-year-old British prodigy, Jake Bugg.

The McKeithan siblings tore through their set, bringing youthful energy and infectious charisma starting the night off with their five piece rock band, The Skins. Bayli McKeithan had the prowess of a front woman well beyond her years, mesmerizing the audience with her rich, soulful vocals along with an insatiable stage presence. This stellar team of underage musicians are the epitome of up-and-coming rock stars. Treating the audience to a stunning performance, this band won’t be playing the role of opening act for too much longer.

Albert Hammond Jr. took the stage next, displaying his characteristic bravado and charm. Entering amidst sea of red light with an ensemble of musicians, he immediately broke into some crowd favorites off of his 2006 debut album Yours to Keep. Filling the venue with his guitar-shredding pop-riffs and howling vocals, Hammond Jr. impressed the crowd that seemed equally in attendance for his set as the headliner.

Albert-Hammond-Jr

Highlights from his hour-long performance included a rousing rendition of “Postal Blowfish”, along with the extended album version of “Hard To Live(In The City)”. Playing to the enthusiastic crowd, Hammond expressed his gratitude towards being part of such a talented bill and excitement to be playing the historic venue intermittently throughout his set. Hammond and band ended the performance, which featured nearly all the material off of his two solo releases, with a surprisingly impressive cover of East Coast punk legends the Misfits’ “Last Caress”.

Approaching Jake Bugg’s headlining set, the ‘couple-centric’ Thursday night audience filed into the main floor quickly. The crowd anxiously waited, murmuring audibly about their excitement for Bugg’s first Bay Area performance since dropping his sophomore album last November. The songwriter’s setlist was dominated by familiar favorites off his critically acclaimed debut while also offering a generous sampling of the rollicking tunes featured on 2013’s Shangri La. Impossible to not draw comparisons between his adenoidal vocals, stoic stage presence and archetypical sound, Bugg’s performance played out as a modern day tribute to various Americana legends and rhythm and blues pioneers. Beyond the general artistic nods to his genre’s predecessors and stylistic similarities of his work, Bugg also included notable tributes to Howlin’ Wolf and Neil Young, which were woven perfectly into his main set and encore. Rounding out the show with an explosive rendition of his hit single, “Lightning Bolt”, the audience bobbed around euphorically singing along through the last notes of the evening.

Ambitiously orchestrated, the evening offered an insight into three artists that should easily be booked on top of their own bill in the coming years. Providing a taste of youthful talent, exciting solo efforts and a headliner possibly hitting the peak of his creative stride, one could only hope that this type of lineup is demonstrative of the future state of modern folk.

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