Julia Pratt's debut headline show was a family affair - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

If you’ve been to the Foundry, you know how intimate the room above The Fillmore can be. This past Saturday, the venue became even more intimate as friends and fans of Julia Pratt filled the space to celebrate the release of her new EP, Family Feud. I was struck by how close-knit the crowd and the performers were, making the event feel more like a reunion than a concert. 

Simultaneously heartbreaking and heartwarming (think: songs to dance along to while tears stream down your face), Pratt’s set was nothing short of breathtaking. Technical difficulties challenged the opening “Little Bug,” but Pratt handled it like a seasoned pro, taking the opportunity to crack jokes and talk with the audience. If the audience wasn’t feeling at ease yet, Pratt’s good-natured humor and quiet charm quickly drew them in.

Before Pratt even stepped on stage to deliver her emotion-filled set, the crowd was treated to opening sets by Kennedy Shaw and Shallow Alcove. Another indication of how chill the vibe was: Pratt could be seen slipping into the audience to cheer on her openers. Kennedy Shaw was backed by bandmates James Sleeman, Harlee Torress, and Satchel Schwartz to set the mood for the night with soft, playful songs. Shallow Alcove followed in their footsteps, delivering a stripped-down version of their sound, complete with unreleased gems.

Kennedy Shaw | photo by Emma Zoe Polyak

Shallow Alcove | photo by Emma Zoe Polyak for WXPN

About halfway through her set, Pratt announced that she had a special surprise for the audience: Kennedy Shaw and Daphne Ellen joined Pratt to sing “Hopeless Romantic,” and to debut their new trio, The B Team. It was a beautiful display of friendship as the three women lifted each other up and charmed the entire crowd. They performed two of their songs for the first time, songs that were written almost a year ago to the day – talk about a full circle moment!

Julia Pratt | photo by Emma Zoe Polyak for WXPN

During the rest of her songs, Pratt played with her band consisting Satchel Schwartz on drums, Pete Dennis on bass, and Eric McGarry on guitar, and the four musicians worked in perfect harmony to provide an enchanting evening. After “Little Bug,” the set continued with “Would It Kill Ya,” which featured moving vocals that were met with whoops and cheers. Before her next song, Pratt shared a little story about her dress while she switched guitars, telling the audience that her dress was thrifted, and hand-sewn by one of her friends to make it stage-ready. She also took the time to celebrate her band and introduce her new EP, Family Feud. “This EP is very special to me, it’s about my family and my upbringing and all the things I felt as a kid. It wasn’t very pleasant to write or create, but it brought me a lot of healing,” shared Pratt with a shaky voice.

Any shakiness disappeared as she dived into “Visions,” the first track from Family Feud. Her light vocals were interjected with intense instrumental breaks, simultaneously lulling the audience and shaking them out of their trance. Pratt continued with “Bull in a China Shop,” the first song she wrote for Family Feud. Like many of her songs, its lyrics deal with mental health and family dynamics.

Julia Pratt | photo by Emma Zoe Polyak for WXPN

“I’m from Philadelphia – so proudly from Philadelphia – and I love it here, but I moved around a lot as a kid. Every eighteen months to two years, I was forced to find a new life for myself, and that led to me never really feeling like I had a home,” shared Pratt, “I went on a road trip with my best friend two years ago to Asheville, and as I looked out over the hills I realized that this place was no longer my home, and out of that came this song.” The third song off Family Feud, “Carolina” is a love letter for anyone who has ever grappled with a similar sense of displacement, and it was apparent from the glistening eyes in the crowd that many in the room resonated with Pratt’s feelings.

Pratt saved the best for last, coming out for an encore (her first one yet!) to sing “Michael,” a song named after her Dad, and the last song on her EP. “Once again, I am so grateful for every one of you, thank you for coming out to hear one of the most painful bodies of work that I have ever made, it really means a lot,” confessed Pratt in a tearful goodbye to the audience. “Michael” was by far the most heart-wrenching song of the night, and Pratt’s raw, emotional vocals promised to stay with everyone in the crowd. Thank you, Julia. Philly loves you!

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