Chaos Now* Not Later
Written by Isabella Rivera
November 5, 2022
“Music allows me to speak in a language where I don’t feel attacked, it’s like staring at the mirror for 5 minutes without feeling weird… It's hard to do, but when you do it with somebody next to you it feels less weird, and you open it up and there’s a thousand people doing it at the same time. You realize you're one of them instead of just looking at you.” - Jean Dawson when asked about his inspiration for making music.
I arrived at the venu at 7 PM to a line that curled around the block – I wasn’t expecting that many people so early, my impression was that only a small but comfortable amount of people were hip to Jean Dawson and Junior Varsity. My former belief was that they were most popular with an underground scene that appreciated what new experimental rock/hip hop music has to offer us. Dawson boasts many famous features including Earl Sweatshirt, A$ap Rocky and Isaiah Rashad. Dawson has been featured in famous magazines like Billboard, W Magazine, BET and is an up and coming star, proclaimed not only by fans of his music, but those who surround themselves with his ideas, talent and family values.
As people started to filter in, their first stop was the merch table. Many audience members mingled with their friends as they waited for the opener, Junior Varsity at 8 PM. I got the pleasure of asking the crowd questions, specifically about their favorite songs. Of course, there was no general consensus, from THREE HEADS*, GLORY*, KIDS EAT PILLS*, BAD FRUIT*, to HUH* Jean Dawson’s new album CHAOS NOW* contained a multitude of sounds that left impressions on every different type of person. Fellow Artist Kid Revel proclaimed that CHAOS NOW* was one of his top 3 albums this year; “He's a visionary, and he's not a trend follower he's a trend setter.” Another fan, Griffin Shyer, had similar feelings calling CHAOS NOW* his favorite album of the year “I like every song, he's so creative, he does so many different genres,” he said.
Other fans felt connected to who Jean Dawson was as an artist. Aidan Coughlin said, “He's just like a depressed kid like me – I found him when I was really depressed. I was 17 and he really spoke to me, all his lyrics are connecting to kids who are different.” Madison Burns, when asked what stands out about Dawson, told me, “I wouldn't be able to compare him, I think that's what distinguishes an artist is if you're unable to compare them to anybody else, that's what makes them an individual, and it’s important to identify the individuals.” As the last few people trickled in, the crowd was big, but not big enough to the point where you’d miss out on the intimate vibes that a music venue like Brighton Hall gives you. The show was about to start.
The lights dimmed and out strutted the opening act. A group of young guys, dressed in quirky t-shirts that declared “I’M NOT GAY BUT MY BOYFRIEND IS” came on stage with enough energy to fill entire venue. The crowd was electric and the best I have seen, especially for an opener. Everyone was excited, singing along with songs, and moshing to the upbeat ones. Lead singer Greg Aram entered the pit and started rocking with us, moshing and singing like his life depended on it–he had some seriously impressive vocals for being surrounded by the crowd. Junior Varsity claims to be “the only band in the world” and with their home recorded vocals, edgy personalities, and down to earth vibe, they are definitely up and coming and deserve to be in every music lover's headphones.
After they ended their Boston debut, the crowd maintained high energy and waited for Jean Dawson to make his appearance so they could sing all the words to his songs. When he finally did arrive, the crowd went wild. They moshed so hard that I had to leave the pit because I am not built for that type of mosh. I ended up scooting my way to the front just in time to see one of the most genuine moments I've witnessed between an artist and what Dawson likes to refer to as his fans, “his friends and family.” Someone had brought Dawson a pack of Pokemon cards. He took his time opening them onstage while giving the crowd a soulful anecdote about his childhood. He explained when he was a kid, him and his mom would bond over these cards in the car, so they made him feel close to her and to home. The way he was able to be so vulnerable in the middle of his set, to share with us a personal moment that was unrelated to his music, is what ultimately brings people into Dawson’s music. “I was never popular so now it’s like I have a bunch of friends, I love and care about everybody,” said Dawson. Who an artist is inside directly translates to their music, and someone so genuine can only keep creating wonderful music…. Real recognizes real.
“Musically I’m internally inspired, where a lot of the stuff from the inside of me, the music is like a magnifying glass, the people that I work with get to hold that magnifying glass and are like ‘we’re gonna make this part really big’”
As he continued his set, Dawson’s band members, mostly Berklee graduates, blew me away with their passion and overall energy. To see not only the lead singer but the whole crew rock out creates an ambience that cannot be matched. The crew feels the same love for Dawson the people coming to rock out with him. Dawson’s Tour Manager and front-of-house engineer Luke BLANK, has been touring for over 20 years with EDM artists like Griffin, and said, “Jean is a really genuine guy and his music means something to people.”
The strong belief that the people have in Dawson is no surprise. His family values, his crew, filled with day one friends who are now his graphic designers, band members who all lent a hand in creating the album and of course his fans – or his family, as he likes to call them – are all what make Jean Dawson the rising star that he was destined to be. With no meet and greet, tired and exhausted from hitting East coast cities all week out of their tour van, Dawson stayed behind for an extra hour just to meet, take pictures and have soulful conversations with true fans. If Jean Dawson comes to your city I highly recommend seeing him before he starts selling out bigger venues.