For the first time in 15 months, live music is returning nationwide after the global coronavirus pandemic ravaged the industry. Billboard’s “My First Show Back” is a series dedicated to sharing stories from throughout the touring ecosystem about what’s happening now, what has been forever altered and what will never change.
In this installment, 20-year-old Jaden Isaiah Hossler — better known as rising pop-punk star Jxdn, who just released his debut album Tell Me About Tomorrow, and announced his first world tour – talks about playing his first-ever full live show for fans at West Hollywood’s iconic Roxy Theatre, with guest appearances from rap-rock buddy Iann Dior, girlfriend and alt-pop collaborator Nessa Barrett, and legendary mentor Travis Barker. (His comments have been edited and condensed for clarity.)
This was my first live show ever. I got to do like a few-song set in Vegas at this weed convention, which is kinda cool, but it wasn’t anything close to a full gig. So yeah, this was really like my first show. And I don’t think it could’ve gone any better.
When COVID first happened, I got kinda robbed – along with a lot of other artists who were just starting – of the joys of just experiencing everything in person. I got to make the music and do all the liners and the videos and do the work, but I didn’t get to have the performances, which is like the joy out of everything. But I think that it gave me an advantage, ultimately — just because I had a lot of time to grow and figure out who I was as a person. If I would’ve started performing at the beginning, it would’ve been good, but it wouldn’t have been as good as it is now. I really found security in who I am as a person, and as an artist, and that translates when you perform.
I just got the first gold record of my entire career, like a month ago, for “Angels and Demons.” And I have a couple songs over 50 million streams. So I got to see the numbers, you know? But nothing compares to seeing the response in person. I released my album, and the response has been amazing, but seeing people knowing my songs in person… I didn’t even have to sing “Angels and Demons,” you know? That’s the coolest thing in the world for me. There was definitely times that I was like, “Is this even real? Is it just numbers or do people wanna see me in person?” So this show just took care of all my worries with that.
The show was gonna be at The Troubadour for a minute. But then we made the decision — Travis was like, “The Roxy is just so iconic.” And obviously The Troubadour has a lot of history, but for rock specifically, and punk rock, the Roxy just felt like it’s made careers. It’s all started there for a lot of people. When you walk into that building, you can feel it. I don’t think it could’ve been better if it was anywhere else.
I got there around like 5:30, 6:00. So I got to talk to all the people who were doing the setup, they all did a fantastic job. The fans were sitting out there all day, which was crazy, because we got to – we flew in like 150-200 fans, across America, people who had bought raffles and they had won the opportunity to come see me. So everyone who was there wanted to be there, you know? And I just went out and gave them some waters upfront, and got to talk to them. And that was one of the coolest parts, just actually getting to see my fans in person and see how I actually impact them.
I definitely get a lot of anxiety, you know — in life, in general. But the safest I’ve ever felt was – one, with my girlfriend, but two, on stage. It literally feels like I was born to do this. So as soon as I step on stage, I get the most comfort and the most joy that I think I’ve ever felt in my life. It genuinely feels like I’m high off of something. And like, as someone who’s done drugs, there’s no high like being on stage. There really isn’t. And that’s kind of what sealed the deal for me. I was like, “If this is what this is, you know, I’m doing this forever.”
But funny enough, my voice was just like really, really f–ked. ‘Coz I just got back from Italy – I’m actually going to the doctor today just to make sure that everything that’s OK. I was worried, but my vocal coach was like, “You’re at like 50%, but I know you’re gonna go out there and give 100. Because that’s who you are.” And it seemed like something was off, you know. And I walked out on stage, and the track started playing at the wrong time. So like, the fans were singing a certain part that I wasn’t. Then I looked at my band, and we made eye contact, and we just kept going, and they adjusted. And it was like… almost perfectly imperfect, you know? It was one of those things that kind of felt like it had to go wrong – because things do go wrong. But it just showed how much everyone was in sync, you know? They really pulled it together, and my fans helped me out. We hit our groove really quick and it was amazing.
The mask mandate started in L.A. at midnight the night of my show. This type of stuff happens, you know? It comes back, and it goes, and it comes back and… that’s just kind of how sickness is. Once we found out, we were just kind of like, “All right, let’s make sure everything’s safe.” And once it was, we went, “We’re not even gonna think about if.” I told everyone, “People are talking about wearing masks even tomorrow. Let’s just like enjoy tonight.” And so that’s exactly what we did. Hopefully it comes together soon, though. Stupid Delta variant, right?
Other than that it felt like everyone was fine. Which is weird, because it was the first time back, you know? And usually it’s a little awkward when you haven’t done things in a while. But everyone in that room wanted to be there more than anything. From the people who were chilling in the back, having a good time, to the people who were like losing their minds up front. Everyone was playing their part. And it really made the night worth having. Because I genuinely think it was like the kickstart to the rest of a life-changing experience, that I’ll be able to bring for these shows.
My mom was going crazy in the crowd. I have the best Mom in the world, seriously. She hasn’t gotten to see anything – anything – I’ve done in my recording career whatsoever. This was her first experience seeing me to do any of this, literally since high school, since I was doing plays. So of course, she’s my No. 1 fan. Seeing her and my girlfriend just like going stupid to my music was the best thing I could ever ask for, you know?
I didn’t even know that any of those guests were gonna come the day before the show. And then Iann hit us up, like, “Yeah bro, of course.” Iann’s such a great guy, he’s believed in me for so long, so of course he pulled up. Aand then I told Travis, I was like, “Yo, I want you to end the show.” So he came with Kourtney. And then being able to finish the entire night with my girlfriend Nessa coming out and doing our song “La Di Die” together… the energy in there when she came out just changed. It was the craziest ending to the night.
After that, I was so wrapped up in looking at the crowd, thanking everybody, I just felt this guy come and put me in a chokehold. I was like, “What?” And then I looked and it was Travis, and he was like, “I love you so much, dude, I’m so proud of you.” I’ve done everything with Trav — every single song, every single session, I do with him. And so, being able to do a whole show on my own, with my own people, and then having him come at the end and seal the deal was perfect. I was really proud of myself, honestly.
With the Delta variant and everything, I think that — like a lot of things, it always gets worse before it gets better. It’s life. If something happens, you gotta adjust, and see what you can do to make it work. So although it does seem like something’s coming back right now, I think we’re going to be able to keep it contained. Because music’s too important, you know? And I think that everyone needs to understand — get vaccinated, do what you need to do, just so we can go see each other in person. Because it’s life-changing. Like, I’m fully vaccinated, I’m doing everything I can, and my whole team is. We don’t have complete control, but if I did have complete control, we would 100% be at every single show on this upcoming tour, and more. I think it’s gonna turn out good.