Home Live Review Live Review: Katie Pruitt w/ Jack Van Cleaf @ The Atlantis — 5/12/24

Live Review: Katie Pruitt w/ Jack Van Cleaf @ The Atlantis — 5/12/24

Live Review: Katie Pruitt w/ Jack Van Cleaf @ The Atlantis — 5/12/24
Katie Pruitt performs at The Atlantis in DC on May 12, 2024. (Photo by James Todd Miller)

Something Katie Pruitt recently said at The Atlantis came back to me after the show. Introducing her second song of the evening, “Normal,” they told the audience, “is about feeling like an outcast, and discovering that the things that made you different are actually fucking awesome.” 

In a conversation with my mom the next day, she described our late cousin Ludwig as “a strange guy.” “Mom,” I replied, “everyone in our family is weird.” “That’s what makes us special,” she said.

On May 12, Pruitt’s show at The Atlantis was their first sell-out of the current tour, behind their second album, Mantras, which was released early last month. A native of Atlanta, Georgia, Pruitt broke onto the scene with a 2018 live EP. Their blend of Americana and pop earned critical praise from outlets like NPR and Rolling Stone. Signing to roots music label Rounder, their first full album, Expectations, was released just before the outbreak of the Covid pandemic in 2020. Later that year, they were nominated for the Emerging Act award by the Americana Music Association.

Katie writes music from a deeply personal place, often exploring issues surrounding sexual orientation and gender identity. They explained that “Jealous of the Boys” is a song that “took my whole life to write. I never really felt like a boy or a girl, and now there’s a word for that.”

Stream “Jealous of the Boys” by Katie Pruitt on YouTube:

Growing up in a Catholic family and attending Catholic school was a formative influence on the songwriter, who has developed their own relationship to faith. Introducing “White Lies, White Jesus and You,” they said, “Jesus in the Bible was a pretty radical dude. He’d be in drag clubs and supporting his trans friends.”

Themes of struggle, particularly with mental health, are another recurring topic. Before playing “Self Sabotage,” they discussed the difficulties she had in making their second album. “If you’re going through that,” they said, “you’re not alone.” Toward the end of the set, they played “My Mind’s A Ship (That’s Going Down),” which is “about losing your mind but also being grateful for the people who help you find it again.”

Pruitt’s set began with “All My Friends” and also included “Wishful Thinking,” “Leading Actress,” and “Out of the Blue.” Introducing “Blood Related,” they said, “I feel like a parent-child relationship is one of the most complicated relationships.” Preach it: I’m 43 years old and I’m still trying to get my mother to accept that I’m a grown-ass man. “Standstill,” they said, is about “being present.” (One hears a lot about being present, but never being past or future.)

Watch the official music video for “Blood Related” by Katie Pruitt on YouTube:

The lone cover of the evening was Chappell Roan’s “Casual.” Katie finished the set with “Worst Case Scenario” and “Expectations.” For the encore, they paid tribute to their home state with “Georgia” and finished the night off with “Phases of the Moon.”

Singer-songwriter Jack Van Cleaf started out the evening with an opening set, kicking things off with “Cowboy.” His next song, “Terrestrial Man,” was written for his father, a pilot, and used clips from voicemail he’d sent Jack from various places. The next number, he told the audience, was a new song, to which prompted someone on the balcony to call out, “They’re all new to me.” Jack took this in stride, saying the song was “really, really new.” His set continued with “Using You” and “Think About It,” after which Katie joined him for a song “for the wine drinkers.”

As a 43-year-old-cis-het dude, I might, perhaps, not seem like Katie Pruitt’s natural audience. But as I began this article, I found something here I could relate to a deep, meaningful way. And that’s why Katie is finding success and why they sold out The Atlantis: Their songs connect deeply with listeners, and they do that across a broad audience of people who, at first blush, might not seem to have a lot in common with them.

Here are some photos of Katie Pruitt performing at The Atlantis in DC on May 12, 2024. All pictures copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.


Here are some photos of Jack Van Cleaf opening Katie Pruitt at The Atlantis on May 12, 2024. All pictures again copyright and courtesy of James Todd Miller.



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