At a stop during her first-ever U.S. tour last week, Jain played a sold-out show at the Troubadour, the legendary club in West Hollywood that has seen illustrious greats like Leonard Cohen and Led Zeppelin perform and party within its confines. Jain brought the house down – or more accurately, up – with her jumpable, danceable music and energetic, sneaker-enabled stage presence. She performed songs from her debut album “Zanaka” and gave the audience a delicious taste of upcoming music.
Jain’s origins, appropriately like the word ‘troubadour,’ come from the Occitanie region in France. And much like an old, traveling minstrel of lyric poetry during the High Middle Ages, Jain mixes sonic influences from time spent in Paris, the Congo and the Middle East in order to create socially aware, infectious tunes that appeal to a wide audience. While she might be a globetrotter, however, Jain’s “soul is in Africa,” as per her hit song “Come,” which received remix treatment by the eminent Nigerian musician Femi Kuti.
According to Spotify, her top five fan bases thus far are found in Paris, Madrid, Barcelona, Milan and Istanbul. She sings in English, but her beats are universally appealing. Jain’s music has even been featured in a commercial in Poland. America is just now getting its first exposure to Jain’s talents, and she’s already been featured in the Santa Clarita Diet on Netflix. Additionally, I’ve been hearing her music on the radio here in LA a lot recently. Just as she’s traveled to and lived in myriad locales for real, Jain is definitely going places figuratively.
The show’s opening act was Two Feet, an R&B-heavy trap outfit from Harlem, New York. There were two people on stage, but the Twitter handle tweets in singular form and there is very little information available online about the act. Consequently, I’m not quite sure who’s in the band, but they sound quite a bit like The xx. Look out for more Two Feet to show up in your playlists; they are touring with Jain, after all, and they sound quite dope.
When Jain came on around 10 p.m., she humbly thanked the packed crowd for showing up so strongly on a weeknight. For a one-woman show, she has the energy and vibe of a full band. Her signature collared shift dress, black stockings and practical yet hip trainers allowed her to move and dance as she does in the award-winning music video for “Makeba.” In fact, the song’s popularity resulted in her playing it twice.
In addition to songs from her debut album, Jain revealed an unreleased song called “Paris,” which had everyone in attendance excited about the prospect of hearing new music. For the performance of “Come,” She recorded several people in said audience singing the song’s lyrics and mixed the sound on the spot while giggling away at the variety of voices and vocal capabilities presented to her in the front row.
Jain is an attentive and present performer, and the audience reciprocated that respect in kind. I could hear the murmur of “she’s so cool” coming from all corners of the room throughout the show. The LA fans had paid attention to the thematic use of balloons in Jain’s videos, and the crowd had brought in their own. The resulting effect was a spectacular mass of humans and balloons bouncing to the beats in unison.