Jake Wesley Rogers talks at ACL Fest about new EP “Pluto”
The Missouri native sits down with Austin360 to talk saving himself with what’s inside and a potential new tour.
Deborah Sengupta Stith, American statesman from Austin
If you’ve heard of Jake Wesley Rogers, chances are you’ve seen him compared to Elton John. Just search for “Jake Wesley Rogers E” and Google will fill in the rest. It’s pretty easy to see why with the similar aesthetics of the two pianists. Elton even did an interview with Rogers last year, so they seem to be mutual fans of each other.
Judging by Rogers’ performance Sunday afternoon at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, there’s a bigger reason this guy keeps getting compared to Elton: he writes some really, really good songs.
Rogers doesn’t need Bernie Taupin to provide the words. He’s a brilliant pop composer AND lyricist, which is pretty clear from the immediately catchy songs he rolled out at ACL Fest like he didn’t even know how to write a song that wasn’t great. . I don’t say it often, but there was no grease at all in his 45 minute set. Every song belonged.
Favorites? Perhaps the opener, “Hindsight’s 20/20,” which appears in the new “Bros” movie and sets the tone perfectly for Rogers’ introduction to fans who are most likely hearing it live for the first time. Or “Jacob of the Bible,” which he explained he learned in college as his name translates to “liar and cheat.” (“I’m not Jacob from the Bible,” he sang in the chorus, dramatically striking a Jesus Christ pose for good measure.)
After:What’s it like to watch P!nk fly over the ACL Fest
As if to get away from Elton’s zone halfway through, he and his three-piece band (bass, drums, keyboards) served up a splendid rendition of Madonna’s “Like a Prayer,” which he didn’t half-jokingly describes it as “my favorite Christian song”. Perhaps his finest moment was “Middle of Love” from his 2021 album “Pluto,” in which he observed “Sometimes life is like high school” before the follow-up dagger: “And I really hated (expletive ) high school.”
After:Every time Lil Nas X did something that made us scream or cry at ACL Fest
The dramatic title track of “Pluto,” which he discussed in an ACL Fest interview with American writer Deborah Sengupta Stith after his Weekend One performance, worked as a perfect match, though Rogers and his band had to run until at the end as they went over their time slot by a minute or two. The show’s only downside was a recurring technical issue with its wireless mic transmitter, but Rogers took it all in stride, using the breaks to engage the audience with more banter – something else it’s really good at. You could say he’s a born showman. Just like this other guy.