Julia Wolf is Trying, and Succeeding

Arts Reporter Evy Wyman recounts rising rap-pop star Julia Wolf’s surprise-filled performance at Schubas Tavern.

By Evy Wyman, Arts Reporter

On February 20, Schubas Tavern extended a warm welcome to Julia Wolf, a rap and pop star on the rise.

While Julia Wolf warned us in the beginning of her performance that she was feeling a little under the weather and her voice wasn’t at its best, she still put on a wonderful show. Most of the time, Wolf sang with a guitarist and drummer playing alongside her, but in a few instances she used a keyboard. Once, she even returned to the original way she performed, sitting close to the audience and creating a beat with her hand and a small table. Regardless of the instruments accompanying her, Wolf’s smooth vocals shone through. Not only that, but the smoothness present in Wolf’s recordings was retained even in such an energetic live performance. Known for her “diss track energy,” Wolf was boisterous, young, and enthralling in her live performance.

Lyrically, Wolf often also refers to her “fuck ‘falling in love’ lifestyle.” However, as she added in her performance with a self-aware grin, “that doesn’t mean I’m not trying.” Both this bittersweet “trying” and Wolf’s harsh antagonism come through in her music. This semi-contradictory blend appeals directly to how many young people feel about the complications that come with modern dating. However, the singer’s take on romance isn’t the only common thread in her songs. Wolf ensures people know her roots and her story by making steady references to her home in Queens, NY and of the hard work that has led to her success. In songs like “Villain,” Wolf manages to touch on complicated social situations that come with being a young adult while reminding those listening that she hasn’t “taken any days off since 21.”

It took Wolf seven years between when she began composing music for the first time and the eventual release of her first song, but not because she wasn’t trying. She attended music school and worked with a variety of producers and other musicians, but struggled to find her niche and create music that she felt accurately reflected her unique style and voice. Right before she found the “right” producer, Jackson Foote, Wolf’s family nearly moved to Italy to open a pizzeria before her dad had a premonition that her hard work would pay off if they stuck around a little longer. Her newest album, Good Thing We Stayed, references that turning point, because just after the decision to stay, she began making the music she had been envisioning throughout her journey as a composer. The music she’s been making since is a unique mix of sad indie and rap, or as Wolf described it in an interview with The Maroon, an attempt to “blend two worlds together, the Phoebe Bridgers and the Jack Harlow.”

All of her hard work did eventually pay off: Wolf has recently found big-time success. Last January, she performed on The Late Late Show with James Corden, and last year, she caught the attention of alternative R&B slash pop star Blackbear, who did a feature on what’s now one of Wolf’s most listened-to songs, “Gothic Babe Tendencies.” While this adaptation has garnered almost two million plays on Spotify since its release in December 2022, in her concert, Wolf performed an alternate, softer, solo version. Since the solo version of the song remains unreleased, it was a special treat for the multitude of fans who had come out to see her (and on a Monday night, no less).

That wasn’t the only special treat Wolf had in store for her audience. Fans of Wolf are familiar with her “Sunday Confessions,” where she reads submitted confessions and offers advice on Instagram every week. Wolf brought her “Sunday Confessions” to her live performance by setting up a confessional at the merch table where fans could share silly secrets or spicy situations, which Wolf later repeated while on stage. After Wolf shared a couple of funny secrets, there was a surprise proposal, and the couple-turned-fiancés danced together after the endearing moment to an acoustic ballad version of one of Wolf’s songs.

If you’re a fan of Wolf, definitely grab concert tickets if she’s coming your way. And if you haven’t heard her before, the singer would tell you to listen to her song “Get Off My.” Personally, I would recommend “Hot Killer” as a badass theme song for defeating your enemies.