Independent and acclaimed solo musician Joe Pug swept headlines and turned heads with his 2008 EP Nation of Heat, earning him a feature on NPR’s Second Stage blog. Three complete albums and a brief moment of doubt in music later, Pug is on the road again, set to appear at The Independent on Saturday, July 9. The doors don’t open until 8:30 with supporting act Korey Dane taking the stage at 9, meaning you ought to have plenty of time to make it following Chairlift‘s Phono del Sol set.

Part of Pug’s massive appeal lies in his spontaneity and true-to-life perspective that shines through the lyrics. His songs tell stories, and as early as Nation Of Heat Pug drew comparisons to Dylan and Waits for his literary prose. But within four years, Pug had considered quitting music, nearly cancelling dates in the middle of a 2013 tour. He persevered, but eventually did take a step back in 2014. “I needed to reconnect with my girlfriend. I needed to eat healthy food. I needed to go enjoy live music as a fan. I really needed to make sure I still loved making music, because I really had my doubts at that point,” said Pug.

But following an engagement to said girlfriend and a spontaneous pick up of a out-of-tune, ‘free-if-you-move-it’ Craigslist piano, the creativity came flowing back and “If Still It Can’t Be Found” spilled out on the first sit-down. An introspective tune, Pug regards what became the first song he wrote for the new album and the last song on the track list of 2015’s Windfall, acting as a set of informal instructions on how to go forward, rekindling his inspiration and holding up hope in the future.

“There’s not a whole lot of conscious challenges or premeditation in my work. And I don’t mean in the hippy-dippy, ‘I write and whatever comes out is valid’ sense. I just mean that I spend great deal of time thinking about which words sound nice together, and absolutely no time thinking about what I’d like a listener to feel. Anytime a writer begins considering how they’d like to affect somebody it becomes some kind of weird, emotional propaganda. And I’ll tell you what… audiences aren’t stupid. They can sense when they’re being manipulated. And they resent it,” Pug told Paste in 2010.

It goes to show that if the man is not feeling authentic, he knows his message will resonate weakly. But with a newfound sense of purposeful drive, Pug has taken on a honest, brightly burning flame. Come out on Saturday night to The Independent and check it out for yourself, and maybe he will revitalize a spark in you.

Joe Pug. Korey Dane
July 9, 2016
The Independent
9pm, $16 (21+)