Pop-punk revivalist Jxdn rang in his first live show ever at the Roxy Saturday night with a slew of special guests, including Blink-182 drummer and mentor Travis Barker, rapper Iann Dior and singer Nessa Barrett.
The show was a short hour-long event, with no opening acts, but still packed a punch. Jxdn’s gratitude to be performing live for the first time following the COVID-19 quarantine was palpable, though an eerie air hung over the crowd with the impending restoration of Los Angeles’ mask mandate at midnight. Still, Jxdn played to a mainly maskless, limited capacity crowd, which was a mix of teenagers, industry players and his friends and family (in a sweet show, Jxdn’s mom was perhaps rocking out the most of anyone throughout the night).
More from Variety
The 20-year-old singer — who amassed a following on TikTok as part of the content hub Sway House and was later discovered and signed by Barker to his DTA Records — kicked off his first-ever live set with “Think About Me,” the third track from his debut album, “Tell Me About Tomorrow,” which released July 2. Sporting a fitted baby blue Sonic Youth t-shirt and black beanie, Jxdn fit the bill of a rockstar as he bounced around the stage, feeding off the energy of his live band. Drummer Tosh Peterson and guitarist Kenji Chan provided a solid backbone for Jxdn’s vocal delivery, which was at times understandably strained by the amount of moving around he was doing, but hit the mark during moments of focus. Peterson was particularly impressive, soldiering through back-to-back drum-heavy songs while incorporating antics like standing on his drum set and interacting with fans.
The night’s special guests began just a few songs into the set when Jxdn brought out rap and pop-punk crossover Dior, who became an overnight sensation in 2020 with his feature on 24kGoldn’s “Mood,” topping the Billboard Hot 100 for eight non-consecutive weeks. The two performed their collaborative single, “Tonight,” which quickly became a highlight of the set due to their light-hearted performance chemistry.
This being Jxdn’s first ever live performance, the event provided an interesting preliminary study on the many musicians who have blown up over the COVID-19 quarantine via social media, without having a chance to prove their chops on stage first. Jxdn rose up to the challenge gracefully, making up for any inexperience with impressive spurts of energy and fan interaction. After performing his song “One Minute Left,” Jxdn even asked the crowd: “Who here plays guitar?” In response to a screaming girl in the front row, Jxdn handed her a cherry-red guitar from backstage. Though perhaps an expensive habit to form for every live show, the thought of the lifelong passion that could come from such a gift is certainly heartwarming.
The songs in Jxdn’s set rolled by one after the next, mainly featuring cuts from his new album like “Braindead,” “DTA” and “No Vanity.” The performance was always better when Jxdn’s vocals were allowed to shine through, such as in “Last Time” and an acoustic version of one of his first singles, “So What.” Backed by just a guitar, Jxdn’s ragged-yet-rich voice proved his talent outside of the recording studio, and provided a moment for the crowd to catch its breath after a slew of upbeat tracks.
Perhaps Jxdn performs his best while being vulnerable, as the best song of the night came in his album’s titular track, “Tell Me About Tomorrow.” Tears clouded Jxdn’s eyes as he introduced the song, dedicating it to his friend in the audience who has struggled with addiction. “I’ve been through it and I’m sure some of you have too,” Jxdn said before diving into the heartfelt tune, which sees him singing in a lower register and at a slower pace than normal.
Jxdn’s breakout single “Angels & Demons” was the “last song” of the night, and Jxdn prompted everyone to “go stupid” before L.A.’s mask mandate returns. In response, the crowd jumped in unison, with many shouting every word.
But, of course, that was not the last song – after all, Jxdn’s collaborator and girlfriend Barrett was in the crowd, and would this really be Jxdn’s first show ever without an appearance from Barker? My hunch was proven correct when a crew came out to adjust the drum set to Barker’s liking, and soon enough Jxdn was back on stage, asking the crowd: “Is it alright if I bring Travis Barker out here?”
Barker walked out in a simple black tanktop and large black sunglasses, and Jxdn greeted Barrett on stage with a kiss as the crowd screamed. The trio then launched into “La Di Die,” a rumination on the downsides of fame. The crowd was given new life by Barker’s tight drumbeat, and Jxdn’s relief at finishing his first ever show gave him an extra burst of energy to close out the night. As the final notes played and the crowd cheered, Barker surprised Jxdn with a bear hug from behind his back, beaming with pride.
Best of Variety