French Synth-Pop at the Metro: Jain Concert Review
By Shenali Perera
On her second North America tour, French pop-rock artist Jain lit up the Metro last Sunday. With her loop machine, mic, and bright blue jumpsuit, she got the audience bopping along to the synthy beats of her new album Souldier. A unique blend of French techno, African drums, and samba vibes, Jain’s special sound is the manifestation of her multicultural background of being raised in France, then moving to Abu Dabi, and later the Congo.
She opened the show with simply snapping her fingers then launching herself across the stage as she sang “Alright” and “On My Way,” both upbeat and uplifting songs. Before continuing with her set, she took a moment to thank the audience for bringing her to Chicago in the most soothing French accent. Taking the stage with such energy, she followed with “Come,” a hit and personal favorite from her previous album, Zanaka. Jain wrote this song when she was only 16 years old and it was one of the first songs she wrote that drew her to music. The addictive chorus and happy guitar make it impossible not to jump around with her.
Changing it up, she followed with some bass heavy songs. Her uncanny ability to blend different genres came to light in the second half of her performance. “Dynabeat” is reminiscent of 80’s synth-pop with another irresistible chorus to “keep it groovin.” “Inspecta” remixed the theme of Inspector Gadget with booming fanfare and a grungy bassline I could feel in my chest. In between songs, she took a moment to explain how she controlled the loop machine with buttons on the cuffs of her jumpsuit. What a gem! Another song I have on repeat now is “Flash”—with jazzy trumpets, a string section, and sexy vibes—that had the crowd swaying their hips with her.
Many of the songs Jain performed were her reactions to world tragedies. She shared the story behind a currently unreleased song, “Paris.” The song was her reaction to the terrorist attack in 2015. She said, “this song is really about peace and humanity.” The title song of the album, “Souldier,” she wrote after hearing about the nightclub shootings in Orlando. Feeling such a need to vent, she wrote the song in just 10 minutes. Both beautifully sad and hopeful, she ended the show with this pair.
Even after she left the stage, the crowd would not stop cheering for her most popular song, “Makeba.” “Makeba” was the first song of hers that I head and has one of my favorite basslines. She came out and began to perform the song, and the audience went wild. Suddenly she stopped and and asked us to crouch on the floor. When the bass hit, the crowd jumped up and lost their minds. Although the majority of the audience knew only “Makeba” and “Come,” I—and most others too, I’m sure—left smiling and satisfyingly tired.