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Original photo by Anya Wareck
Entertainment

My Discovery Of Dora Jar, Musician & Opener For Billie Eilish

Before Dora Jar slipped through a crowd of fervent audience members to unite with her band onstage at U Street’s DC9 nightclub, a dark-haired fan passed me a paper heart that read, in blue marker, “OUR LUV 4 YOU IS A LAGOON.” I looked around to spot many more hearts surfing through eager fingers until each concert attendee held one—waiting for Jar to unveil herself. 

Since I lacked familiarity with the mesmeric character of Dora Jar’s music, I failed to understand the sign’s enigmatic blue Crayola scrawl. Even so, I tucked a corner under my plastic cup of ice water in case I developed a lagoon-like love for the eclectic artist.

Jar joined forces with Gen Z’s best-loved popstar, Billie Eilish, to open for her Happier Than Ever tour shortly after Eilish stumbled upon Jar’s avant-garde singing videos through a personal Instagram stalk—a stalk that would indelibly pry Dora Jar from an abundance of uncharted musicians. 

As Jar darted and spun across some of the most renowned stages in the world throughout the middle months of 2022, loyal Eilish fans gushed over her peculiar personal style. 

Eilish’s supporters expanded to become disciples of Jar and her hodgepodge of novel melodies, acting quickly to secure tickets for her first ever headlining tour—one that commenced on November 3 in Atlanta, Georgia. Happier Than Ever was just the beginning, as Jar’s entrance to the limelight left fans yearning for more. 

I witnessed Jar’s unorthodox musical expression stupefy audience members to the point of pin-droppable silence throughout moments of the tour’s second show in DC on Saturday, November 5. Prior to her opening performance of “Tiger Face,” the eerie first notes of “The Hills are Alive” rang through the dimly-lit bar—jerking at the heartstrings of an audience raised by Robert Wise’s Academy Award-winning film.

Tension bounced among Jar and her band, transcending past the stage’s end into the crowd of spectators. The felt spark may allude romance, yet is purely a product of Dora Jar’s bewitchment over concert-goers. It would be impossible to avoid complete obsession with her sound after attending her performance. 

By the intro of Jar’s signature second tune, “Scab Song,” my own obsession began to materialize as I realized her vocal faculty is that of a raw, unfiltered artist capable of summoning the same and possibly more complex sound live as she does behind the recording booth. Dora Jar lays the contents of the booth on the stage, plus a little extra.

Jar chronicled the story behind the outwardly playful track live in DC: “so this next song is about a time when I was at boarding school and I hopped a fence—I was trying to run away—not really, but I got a big cut on my leg, and it scabbed over and looked like Hawaii.” Her anecdote showcases just how talented of a lyricist she is —I would almost say really listening to Jar’s music feels like completing an intricate puzzle, placing the long-awaited final piece on the table, as her lyrics soothe the soul yet elicit deep emotions from those well-traveled. 

Performing a headline show is like having a reunion with people you love so much and have been missing for so long.

Dora Jar, Nov. 5, DC9.

Towards the middle of Jar’s DC set she grew somber, disclosing that her upcoming track “Garden” personifies the sensation of “slowly crawling through the icky hole of the aching heart.” The song forwards innocently gut-wrenching lyrics like “on the downward spiral, you wanted me to smile,” and “have you ever looked inside a woman”—declarations so raw I witnessed audience members wince in remembrance of the icky holes they may have crawled through. 

As the artist begin to sing “Lagoon”—a song I’ve listened to on repeat each day since the show—the purpose of the paper heart I had tucked away suddenly clicked. Jar paints a precise portrait of female desire through the lyrics “I want to be medically examined by you.” As a woman, I visualize my emotions through the artist’s vulnerable sentiments. Jar flawlessly narrates the poignancy of loving so much just to be broken open, unexpectedly free falling as life carries on.

Not only did I hold my blue Crayola heart high throughout the live performance of “Lagoon,” resisting the onset of muscle fatigue after the chorus—I carried the flimsy paper memento of this brilliant night home to sit atop my shrine of treasured books. Dora, my love for you is a lagoon, and now I hear you through my headphones every day.

As someone born at the onset of a musical drought—one in which unrepeatable live performances free from autotune and icky publicity tactics are hard to find, I appreciate Jar’s preservation of her creative roots. On the feeling of experiencing her first-ever headlining tour as an evolving artist, Jar remarks: “performing a headline show is like having a reunion with people you love so much and have been missing for so long.” The world has been missing Dora Jar—in truth needing her so desperately, and she is finally here. 

Originally from New Haven, CT, Anya is a senior at GW majoring in Political Science with a double minor in Criminal Justice and Human Services & Social Justice. Anya hopes to travel after graduation, and gain work experience outside of the United States. In her free time, Anya is probably taking a walk or facetiming her friends and family.
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