Jacob St. Aubin live review photo by Sam Skopp

Live Review: Jacob St. Aubin at Bar 20 at the Grafton Hotel

Material: Jacob St. Aubin typically performs EDM-tinged pop songs as J-¢ent with backup dancers and a DJ, as he explained at the beginning of his set. While performing under his given name, however, St. Aubin stripped down three originals and five cover songs to just vocals and acoustic guitar. His choice of covers, which included Sia’s “Reaper” and Kelly Clarkson’s “Breakaway,” meshed well with his own material, like opening song “Supercharge,” which features an anthemic chorus reminiscent of Katy Perry’s “Roar.” Played acoustically, these songs retained their platitudinal power while feeling appropriately simplified to fit the intimate bar environment.

Musicianship: Guitarist and sideman Jim Briggs expressed the bare bones of the songs, leaving plenty of room for St. Aubin’s vocals to dominate the performance. St. Aubin is a talented singer, and even received an eruption of applause from his occasionally chatty bar crowd after nailing the chorus of Sam Smith’s “Lay Me Down.”

Performance: St. Aubin seemed both at ease in his role as frontman and healthily nervous to be performing with just an acoustic guitar at his side. Being indecisive about when in the set to remove the microphone from its stand, for example, came off as a charming human moment thanks to his natural charisma as a performer. St. Aubin seemed acutely aware of the nature of the show and was able to introduce just enough pop star swagger into what otherwise felt like his genuine personality.

Summary: Though a two-person acoustic performance can’t match the glamorous pop music productions for which his material is designed, these stripped-down versions never felt “lesser than” thanks to a focus on expressing the essential components of each song, as well as showcasing St. Aubin’s impressive vocals. It’s a testament to St. Aubin’s skills as a performer that he was able to step into an unconventional role and make it feel natural.

The Players: Jacob St. Aubin, vocals; Jim Briggs, guitar.

Text and photo by Sam Skopp

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Jacob St. Aubin - "Supercharge"

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