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Catch up on Jxdn, ACL Fest's rising pop-punk prince keeping the Blink-182 dynasty alive

Eric Webb
Austin 360

No, you didn't show up too early for Machine Gun Kelly. (I get it, his giant pill bottle prop was visible on the stage.) But you're not far off. The peroxide prince playing pop-punk at Austin City Limits Music Festival in the early afternoon on Oct. 8 was Jxdn. He's MGK's own tour opening act, but more to the point, he seems to be the future of the genre.

"It's crazy. I didn't think the fans I have would be so diehard," Jxdn — pronounced Jaden— told the American-Statesman in an interview before he hit the Honda Stage at 2:30 p.m.

Pop-punk singer Jxdn performs from the Honda Stage on the first day of the second week at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Friday Oct. 8, 2021.

And diehard, they are. For an early ACL Fest set, Jxdn's audience was loud and mighty, and you better believe they knew the words. His fans seem to stick around and aren't fairweather, he said: "That's something that I'm really grateful for."

That said, Jxdn's career is young, but he's already got plenty to be proud of. After hitting it big on TikTok as a personality, he started his music career last year, inspired by the late emo rapper Juice WRLD. From then to now, he's signed to Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker's label, released a debut album called "Tell Me About Tomorrow" and announced plans for his own headlining tour.

"He has so much wisdom," Jxdn said of Barker, who's basically the dean of the pop-punk genre at this point. "It's almost like a cheat code. Every time we get in the studio, I know we're going to have a song that's worth putting out."

More:Machine Gun Kelly reads Austin360 and he told an ACL Fest crowd all about it

The mentorship also led to one song that bridges the old and new schools: "A Wasted Year," which interpolates Blink-182's 2003 song "Feeling This" to instantly pleasing effect. 

Barker is "down for anything," Jxdn told the Statesman, and if the young singer wanted to do a country song, he's positive his mentor would be down. They're also talking about including a pop-punk Christmas song — titled "Christmas Sucks," obv — on the deluxe edition of Jxdn's album.

"If Blink didn’t do it, I couldn’t be here," he told the ACL Fest crowd. "Respect who came before you."

Pop-punk singer Jxdn performs from the Honda Stage on the first day of the second week at the Austin City Limits Music Festival, Friday Oct. 8, 2021.

Even with the Barker of it all, and the Machine Gun Kelly resemblance, Jxdn's take on the genre that Warped Tour built is wholly that of a 20-year-old who made his name on TikTok. The insistently heart-open choruses, the vocal sneers and the hard-driving rhythms remain from the best of the early 2000s. There's a not-small tint of hip-hop over Jxdn's songs, though, and the subject material — mental health, medication, making it to the next day — are considerably more raw than "All the Small Things." They're themes you also might find on MGK's "Tickets to My Downfall," but the mood's even darker in a Jxdn joint.

(His vocals seemed on point on Friday, though it was hard to tell with backing tracks and recorded features drowning him out for plenty of the set.)

Oh yeah, but there's still the classic heartbreak: "I've wasted so much time on you/ Do you even think about me?" he yelps on "Think About Me" with a kick and jump and kicking jump. It's his favorite move.

If he worried what people said about him, he wouldn’t be on the stage, Jxdn told the audience. Rebellion is built into the punk spectrum, and Jxdn is not the first (or 124th) artist to deploy the middle finger to great effect in front of a crowd. His brand, though, seems rooted in a radical self-acceptance, the kind that a post-therapy America has learned the words for.

Even if it just means accepting that you like to be comfy.

"I think that there's a bunch of (expletive) that you can do that's punk," Jxdn told the Statesman. "I think I'm punk because I do what I want. I'm wearing a T-shirt and shorts; I'll wear a T-shirt and shorts for the rest of my life."

And you know what else is punk? Grabbing random audience members out of Zilker Park and letting them stand on a catwalk with you while you sing the title track of your debut album, just so that they have a nice birthday.

"Can someone grab her? I don’t know if I have that power," he laughed from the stage when he spotted a fan in the crowd.

More:Who should I see at ACL Fest 2021? Austin360's official guide to the lineup

(The young lady seemed to have a wonderful time, even if she didn't know she'd be dancing on one of ACL Fest's headliner stages for the entire run time of a song.)

Jxdn's connection with his fans, the ones who knew about him before coming to ACL Fest and ones who didn't, is undeniable. And for someone who just started performing live and spilling his innermost thoughts to millions of streaming listeners, his charisma (and his jumps and his kicks) seem built to grow.