Recap: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Jeff Rosenstock at the MetroPhil Collins - March 31, 2015
Midway through Andrew Jackson Jihad's set at the Metro on Friday night, the three members of the band added in recent years stepped off the stage, leaving original members Sean Bonnette and Ben Gallaty by themselves. Their performance of "Sense and Sensibility" was a reminder of the Andrew Jackson Jihad shows of years ago. Sean on acoustic guitar, Ben on stand-up bass. Upbeat rhythms behind scathing lyrics. The sound of fans screaming out the lyrics carrying as loud as the music itself in those small spaces. The fanbase grew steadily, the band has grown with new members and an evolving sound and the stage has grown to accomodate it all.
This steady growth was more apparent than ever on Friday. The Metro is the biggest venue Andrew Jackson Jihad has ever played in Chicago. Not only did they play the Metro, they headlined it. Not only did they headline it, they sold it out. On stage, the band said this show set a new attendance record for any AJJ show (Metro's capacity is 1,100.) It was a surreal experience at times, hearing that many voices shout for a band that I was watching in venues one-tenth the size just a few years ago. The crowd went crazy over songs off their newest album, Christmas Island, which made the elite eight in Change the Rotation's best albums of 2014 bracket. "Linda Ronstadt," "Kokopelli Face Tattoo," and "Temple Grandin" were big winners from that album. I was thrilled to see them play "Deathlessness" from the same album, a very Violent Femmes-y, western song.
The band played plenty of older songs too, including "People II: The Reckoning," "Bad Bad Things," "Love In The Time Of Human Papillomavirus," "We Didn't Come Here to Rock" and plenty from "Knife Man." They opened with the first two songs off that album. "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving" sounded cool played with a full band (Sean played acoustic guitar through the whole set, so it had a full band acoustic sound). "Hate, Rain On Me" has been a huge crowd pleaser since the band started playing it. Perhaps the biggest surprise was the inclusion of "Hate Song For Brains" off the Rompilation. That, and the night-closing cover of Slayer's "South of Heaven."
Jeff Rosenstock, a longtime collaborator/tourmate of Andrew Jackson Jihad, did a full band opening set Friday night. It was equally surreal to see the Fresh Prince of DIY on the Metro's stage. He has joined AJJ on SideOneDummy records with the excellent new record We Cool?, released earlier this month. His first post-Bomb the Music Industry! solo release was more of a collection of songs recorded at different times. This makes We Cool? his first proper solo album. Fans of Vacation era Bomb will find plenty of reasons to love this album. Friday night, Jeff and his band played a bunch of those songs along with some from that first release, I Look Like Shit. "Hey Allison!," "You, In Weird Cities" and "Nausea" were the fan favorites from We Cool? "The Trash The Trash The Trash" was naturally a big hit, as were "80's Through the 50's" and "Bonus Oceans."