Jared Harper shows off massive talent for a first-time BottleRock performer

by Gavin Meichelbock

This article is part of BruinLife’s BottleRock music festival coverage happening from May 24-26, 2024.

The pop-rock artist from San Francisco blends pop, disco, country and, of course, rock with catchy hooks to create a special musical experience. His soulful voice has become his calling card as it bleeds raw emotion into the heartfelt storytelling behind his relatable lyrics. These are only a few of the attributes he had to offer BottleRock 2024 as the crowd drew in for his first performance of the day.

Big cheers erupted from the small crowd as Harper walked onto the Truly stage in an all-denim outfit and sunglasses. He picked up his shiny red guitar and jumped right in. His first song ended and Harper told the audience they “sure know how to make a guy feel good.” He then said he felt honored that people came out to see him before cueing up his second song.

The crowd grew as he began to sing “All for Me.” Harper was literally and figuratively leaning to the notes as the country flair carried through the grounds. He took the lyrics up a notch by jumping octaves, launching into a heartfelt falsetto section as he led into the final chorus. He then took his sunglasses off, saying that he wasn’t the type of guy to wear them and he wanted to see the audience better. He then said he was thinking while in the shower of all the people he wanted to thank, but the excited crowd cut him off the second he said he was in the shower. After a slight pause and a laugh from the singer, he said that he grew up attending BottleRock and he is honored this is his first festival. Instead of taking the time to thank everyone who made his success possible, he quoted Lady Gaga by saying he thanks all of his “ones.”

With Gaga still on his mind, he picked up his acoustic guitar and sang through the first verse of “Shallow” by the acclaimed artist. “Shallow” quickly faded away as the band picked up their tempo and built into a full-on country rock tune. As he went into the chorus of “About You,” he blew a kiss to someone in the audience before rushing back to the mic to continue the song. Harper gave a bashful reception to the audience’s applause. He then confessed to the audience that he missed his best friend’s wedding to be at BottleRock but was incredibly grateful that they showed up as he pointed them out in the slowly growing audience.

The performer’s fourth song was a killer cover of “Mr. Brightside” by The Killers. While this was a cover, Harper wasn’t trying to emulate the iconic band, instead putting his own acoustic flair into it. The audience was grooving to the familiar song, and Harper responded with an earnest smile during the guitar breaks. Harper then formally introduced himself to the crowd and said how happy he was to meet everyone and wanted their opinion of his next song; the audience cheered a response. Before he started to sing, the artist gave a slight chuckle and said that he could pick out his friends from the “whoos” of the crowd.

He began to sing “I Found a Better Way,” a tune with an indie feel with straight rock and roll vocals. The song’s big choruses faded into sentimental verses and back again. His sixth song of the set was the soft heartbreak pop song, “Lonely.” As the artist sang the song, people in the crowd could see him gazing longingly into the distance as if searching for the one who got away. Then a cheeky smile crossed his face as he said the words, “Maybe that includes you.” As the crowd began to cheer, Harper said they sounded like a bunch of hyenas and to not make him put them down. He then realized the ridiculousness of his statement saying, “I’m not from the country, I’m from San Francisco, I don’t know why I talk like this.”

Next up is his song, “Addicted to You,” another country-flavored indie-rock chart with a pop chorus. Harper winked at someone in the crowd as he sang the words, “Girl you know when something feels right.” After the song he then admitted that wearing all denim on a hot day was a bad choice and shouted out all the audience members with sun hats. Harper then asked the crowd if they were all going to hang out at the main stage later to watch the headliners, to which the audience was ecstatic. The next song of the afternoon was a new one. An acoustic power ballad filled the space and the basslines hummed to the words, “living life on my own.”

After that was another cover, of “Somebody to Love” by Queen. Finding his own somebody to love, Harper then introduced the band saying that while his name is on the lineup his bandmates are just as important. The guitarist’s name was Alexi Glickman, the drummer was Martin Diller and the bassist was Joseph Lafond. Harper then cued up the song “If I Can’t Have You,” an electric song with a soulful lead-in and a laid-back one and three on the drums. He then told the audience that he loved them and thanked them for spending their Sunday with him.

“Picture” was his last song of the set and was met with great love from the audience. The disco-funk bassline had even the moms in the VIP section with rosé waving their arms in the air. In between the song’s climactic finish, he thanked everyone for coming out before ending the performance.

This up-and-coming artist has a bright future with, hopefully, many more BottleRock performances to come.

Featured Image Photographed by Cathryn Kuczynski/BruinLife.

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