Hannah Jadagu elevates bedroom pop at her first headline show
The NYU student artist shines at the Sultan Room in Bushwick.
November 9, 2021
In an all-white outfit, Hannah Jadagu ran on stage. Taking her place behind the mic stand, she strapped her guitar on and greeted the cheering crowd with a smile. The room was intimate, dimly lit with a colorful wall of geometric LED panels. The crowd, a mix of 30-somethings and college kids like myself, gathered around a small circular stage. Many of us were in costume for Halloween weekend.
Originally from Mesquite, Texas, Jadagu moved to New York City in 2020 to study music business at the Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She is currently taking a semester off to go on tour. This fall, she opened for Brooklyn-based dream-pop band Beach Fossils on the East Coast leg of its tour. In the spring, she will be going on tour supporting indie pop artist Ritt Momney. This show was her first time headlining.
During the one-hour set, Jadagu performed all five tracks from her EP, “What is Going On?,” as well as two covers, one single and two unreleased songs. It was exactly what I wanted to hear from a live bedroom-pop performance. Her vocal performance was on par with her studio versions — buoyant and airy, with a dreamy quality that mixes smoothly with her synth and lo-fi production. But for the live performance, Jadagu and her band took the magical energy of her music to the next level for an electrifying live performance.
Her vocal performance of “Bleep Bloop” was exceptionally intimate. At the mic stand with her guitar, she swayed lightly as she sang with her eyes closed. As iPhone flashlights started lighting up in the crowd, you could hear the raw and delicate emotion in her voice. The synth-heavy introspective song about feeling out of place, coupled with a hint of guitar twang, resonated with the young audience. It was my favorite piece of the night.
Halfway through her set, Jadagu did a cover of “STAY” by The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber. The rendition wasn’t groundbreaking. The song is undoubtedly popular and catchy, but is bland in and of itself — and Jadagu didn’t do it any favors. Unlike in her cover of M.I.A.’s “Paper Planes,” earlier in the night, Jadagu’s vocals didn’t carry the melody well. The song drowned out her voice. The crowd enjoyed the cover, however, and it was well-placed — in the middle of her set — to keep the energy high. The backing track, which the crowd recognized immediately, carried the performance. I did enjoy how it felt like a jam session. Jadagu also brought on two friends to accompany her with vocals and guitar, contributing to the casual vibe of the evening.
Though Jadagu has a distinctly chill attitude in her music and on stage, you cannot deny her talent of transforming into a rock star. Her performance of the last two songs of her set was spectacular. “All My Time is Wasted” had the same effervescent ambience, but the cranked-up bass and drum beat elevated the energy. The crowd was jumping and Jadagu leaned in, beckoning the fans to sing. They knew the lyrics. As she made her exit, the crowd began to chant for the encore. Just as swiftly as she exited, she swept back on stage to sing her final song, “What Is Going On?”
I felt like I was watching a rock star perform. When I thought the song was drawing to a close, the band picked up a guitar-heavy coda. At one point, Jadagu turned to her guitarist, and both rocked out on their knees. Jadagu then walked to the edge of the stage, lifted her guitar up and strummed vertically. The crowd reciprocated the energy. Some in the first row started headbanging. I got chills — the energy was euphoric.
As I walked out the door of the Sultan Room into the cool Bushwick night, I felt like I just attended a house show. It was laid-back and fun, with many NYU students attending. Jadagu and her band transcended rookie status. She delivered on what she claims her music is and she did it well. Hannah Jadagu is an indie star on the rise, there’s no doubt about it.
Contact Elle Liu at [email protected]