By Laura Ord
Photography by Laura Ord
To some, Jelly Roll’s rise to the top of Billboard has been meteoric and unexpected. For some of us, it has been a slow burn, a tale of perseverance and spirit. For those in the know, Jelly Roll has been enmeshed in the music scene since the late aughts. Jelly Roll pioneered “hick hop” - a term coined for country rap acts like Yelawolf, Struggle Jennings and Jelly himself.
If you said 10-years-ago that you were a fan, you would have been chastised; much in the same way you would've been for liking Insane Clown Posse, dad rock and other niche genres or artists that are often chaffed at and require a particular palette. Unlike the others listed, Jelly Roll recently broke free of the restraints placed on him by his hick hop roots, crossing into the crowd of popular opinion.
Walking up to Delmar Hall in St. Louis, there were two lines dissecting the loop. On your left, people were waiting for doors for Teagan and Sara and on your right, Jelly Roll. The 750-capacity venue felt as though it was bursting at the seams, even though ticketing was limited to 500 fans. The show was a benefit brought to the area by St. Louis’ Chuck’s Boots Superstores, with proceeds going to impact Youth Outreach.
Jelly Roll has a special attachment to St. Louis and you could feel his love for the city bleed through his entire set. He originally starting out playing the side room at FUBAR, a now closed venue touting a modest capacity of only 500 patrons. He then moved to East Saint Louis’ notorious 24-hour nightclub Pop’s, where he made tour stops for 10-years. Local stations 105.7 The Point and 92.3 WIL were the first stations in the nation to play his music on alternative and country radio, respectively.
Photography by Laura Ord
This show at Delmar Hall now marks his most intimate show of the year, in the midst of amphitheater performances across the country that are touting crowds of 15,000+.
There is something very distinct about Jelly Roll. It isn’t the gravel in his voice or the subject matter of his catalogue. The thing about Jelly Roll that sticks with you, the thing that sets him apart from so many artists inhabiting the same space, is his humility.
He takes time to meet and thank fans, his youngest, who are christening their live music experience, were brought back to the green room after the show for photos and autographs. He sheds tears throughout, while he smiles the most wide and genuine smile of appreciation at every swell of applause.
Jelly Roll is a phenomenal performer. His set blends both his past and present as an artist and person, which saves space for the OGs and new fans alike.
Between songs, there were messages for the crowd about the opioid crisis and mental health advocacy - because like Jelly says, you aren’t who you were yesterday and it is better on the other side.
Standing in Delmar Hall you could feel that, as much as St. Louis means to Jelly Roll, he matches with the fans. His set, a blend of tracks from Whitsitt Chapel and older songs from his hick hop days, didn’t have a miss with the crowd.
Fans young and old knew every word during the hour and a half performance, with one fan even handing a wedding invitation to the performer, who replied; “That’s far enough out that I might be able to make this one".
An intimate performance with one of the country’s largest performers, those who were lucky enough to get tickets to last nights show were truly given a treat.
Jelly Roll - Set List
Taken from his headline set at Delmar Hall in St. Louis, Missouri on Wednesday, June 21, 2023.
Hate Goes On
Halfway to Hell
Dead Man Walking
Son Of A Sinner
I Need You
Rising Medley (House of the Rising Sun, Hurricane, Crazy Rap)
Bottle and Mary Jane
Need A Favor
Fall in the Fall
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