Juliana Hatfield Three at The Roxy, Hollywood, California :: Live Music Review


Juliana Hatfield Three
21st Anniversary of Become What You Are
March 16, 2015
The Roxy, Hollywood, California

The first time I ever saw Juliana Hatfield play live it was at The Roxy. It was Summertime, in 1995, late June if I remember correctly. The place was packed with people and Hell-fire hot inside, all of us clustered close, fanning ourselves with bar napkins and melting together into the music. Juliana was dripping in sweat, but still kept playing song after song, putting forth a show that has since always had a place on my best live music moments ever. She talked a little between songs, mostly about the heat, and also briefly mentioning the show she’d had a guest spot on, My So-Called Life. “Jordan Catalano” was there himself that night, Jared and his brother (who was also on the show, and later a part of Leto’s band, 30 Seconds to Mars). I was there with a group of friends from my record store job. It was all such a quintessential “90’s” moment in time, I was even wearing a baby doll dress.

Twenty years later and here I was at The Roxy to see Juliana again, this time with “The Three“, and my twenty-three year old daughter in tow. She was a year old when Become What You Are was released, an album I played obsessively for most of that year, and others to follow. It is an album I still listen to, in its entirety, often. There was a moment for me, as we stood there waiting between the opening band’s set, and Juliana’s, where I found myself stunned at the passage of time.

Twenty years had gone by and I honestly didn’t feel that different. Looking around I saw a wide mix of people, all varying in age and style, but amongst them there was definitely a group of people in my age genre, or whatever you want to call it, who could have very well been there, with me, back in 1995. I stood there still feeling like I was in my twenties, singing-a-long to the track-by-track performance of Become What You Are, not feeling much different from when I first held that CD in my hand. I’m not one for “where did the time go?” woeful exclamations, but I am quite cognizant of how our bodies seem to age, but not so much our hearts and minds. I still feel songs like Little Pieces and For the Birds and Feelin’ Massachusetts, they are still relevant to me, they still hit me, sometimes even deeper than in the nineties.

Supermodel/My Sister (live at The Roxy, March 16, 2015) :: Juliana Hatfield Three

 When Juliana came out, guitar nearly as big as she strapped on, and started to sing Supermodel, I got instant goose bumps. It felt as if I was in my apartment, back when I first played the album, and the song had started, except here I was, with the band a few feet from me, and the songs sounding better, more raw in spots, more mature in other spots. I was struck by how damn good the band sounded, and what an incredible guitarist Juliana. I don’t remember her being so amazing with a guitar when I saw her before, in 1995, but then again, it’s been years, hasn’t it?

The next song started up, track two, My Sister, and I found myself hearing the song with a new perspective. I did not grow up with my sisters. I did not know I even had sisters until I was in my late twenties, and the three of us were near grown. I always loved the song, but never felt the song personally. But here I am now, with two daughters who often do not get along, the youngest who I know feels the complexities and contradictions of sisterhood that this song deals with. I really found myself feeling the song from my youngest daughter’s perspective, and wondered what she would think of it if she heard it.

When This is the Sound started up the crowd starting to come to life, dancing, throwing their hands in the air, spinning around, and swaying in that ever so nineties way. There is nothing like being in a crowd at a concert, to be in proximity to music in that way, to be breathing the music in and to feel the crowd breathing it in, too. The movement, the pulse, the shared experience, it is one of the best things in life. I loved feeling all of us moving together.

Also, I half expected her to say “bridge” after the “all washed up” line, like on the album.


The album continued, each song expected, but beyond expectation. I still cannot get over Juliana’s guitar work, and the sound of the three of them together. I love that Juliana’s voice cracked sometimes, that it seemed so real and in the moment, that the songs never once felt dated, or nostalgic, or tired. They sounded better to me than when they were new.

Feelin’ Massachusetts was my favorite moment of the night. It has always been my favorite song on the album, but last night it became more than that to me. The lyrics felt so much like things I am feeling right now in my life. Some of the lines brought the sting of tears to my eyes, and both hurt and felt freeing to hear, and sing to. I do “just want to feel alive again”.

I felt both excitement and a sudden sadness when the last song began. That said, sing-screaming along to the line “I’ve got no idols” felt so cathartic. That surge in the crowd hit again, the bouncing and spinning, everyone singing it together, with Juliana. It was powerful, the combining of voices, the variety of people, from different walks and ways, coming together for the music. We may all have no idols per se, except for maybe the music, and for many of us there that night, Juliana’s Three.


The show did not end there though. They did two encores, singing many songs during the two, my favorites being I’m Shy, What a Life and If I Could – the latter especially, which hit on a very personal level, too.

All in all the show was just what I wanted it to be, what I hoped it to be, and much more. Juliana is an amazing musician and performer. I enjoyed the moments she spoke about songs and the album, about being at The Roxy before, and I loved when she asked for an encore with no cameras/phones. Although I was guilty of taking pictures, after she asked for that I started to think about how much I preferred when no one had a phone out at shows, and that the only thing ever held up in the air were arms and lighters. Do we really have to see so much of things through a phone screen? I may just leave my phone in the car at the next concert I attend.

What an album! What a band! What a show! I am so glad I went.


I wish I’d saved all my wristbands from all the shows I’ve been to. Here’s last nights.

I Got No Idols (live at The Roxy, March 16, 2015)

17 thoughts on “Juliana Hatfield Three at The Roxy, Hollywood, California :: Live Music Review

  1. I loved reading this, because I love Juliana and grew up in the 90’s, and also because we go to lots of gigs with our 20 and 21 yr old sons who happen to love a lot of the same music as hubby and I. I agree with you about bodies aging but mids not so much, when I listen to some artists music not a day has passed, and seeing them live brings back a ton of emotions and memories.

    I’m so glad that the night surpassed what you hoped for, that’s the magic we hope for from our favourites.

    1. I think its universal, don’t you? Our bodies age but inside we are all still 25, or 19, or something like that…

      Thanks so much for your comment! I love being able to share music experiences with my kids – my 23 year old is usually up to any concert, so its great to have that shared experience together.

      What was the last live show you saw that you brought your sons to?

      1. We saw J Mascis recently with one son who worships him, and saw The Dandy Warhols as a family last year!

    2. http://www.liveontomorrow.co.uk A link to your amazing and full of heart review of the Juliana Hatfield concert has been added to the site.My friend Craig is the creator of the page and he also loved your review when I send it to him.Keep up the good work and writings and most important is great to see dedicated fans like you support Juliana like we do.YOU ROCK Lady 🙂

  2. Thrilled to hear you had a good time and that you and your daughter could experience the show together. I hope I get to see Juliana rock and roll live someday. The guitar in “If I Could” reminds me of It’s A Shame About Ray.
    The night sounds perfect & thank you for sharing your review especially how her music still resonates with you even more in some ways. So true.
    You should link her to your post.

    1. After hearing her description of what she wrote If I Could about, and when she wrote it, and how it is still relevant to her now, and then “everyone has someone they love and want to help, but can’t” – made me wonder if this was about Evan…

      It was fun having her with me (my daughter), even though my best friend was originally set to come along. I told her that this was the album I was obsessively listening to when she was one year old…then she told one of her friends that she had the “quintessential 90’s night” going to see The Juliana Hatfield Three play Become What You Are with her Mom – ha!

      It was an amazing show! I’m glad I found out about it in time.

      Thanks for the comment 🙂

      1. Heh…interesting. Then it’d also make even more sense why there’s that little something in the guitar, but sped up, that sounds similar to the chords in Ray too. I love to know the background and at the same time you can still make the songs your own. I WOULD KILL(you know what I mean) to hear her talking about her songs like that on stage! AHHHH! So amazing. Can’t thank you enough for taking a couple of videos, it’s better than nothing though I know it doesn’t compare.
        Aww 90s night with Mom! Wonder what the next 90s night will be…!

      2. I love hearing artist talk about their songs – its one of my favorite things when they do that in concert.

        The videos aren’t mine. I should probably figure out how to credit them to the youtube user, or something. The bad photos are mine though 🙂

        Hey – I am sending a package out to you on Monday. Something I wanted to include took some time to get to me – but now I have it so expect a sorta-surprise next week 🙂

        Next 90’s night with Mom? Well, maybe a binge of MSCL for that epic post…

      3. I meant to add that I assumed they were your videos because I misread something but I always think with youtube videos people can just click them and see what channel it came from and read the credits from there. I wouldn’t worry about it then again I see people on Pinterest get steamed over people pinning them or pinning and changing their captions which seems absurd to me!

      4. I’ve worried about that too:/ I always think it’s obvious when it’s my photo or video but then it’s probably not at all! oops.

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