Andrew Jackson Jihad @ Skull Alley, Louisville

My pal Devin and AJJ's Sean
Andrew Jackson Jihad/Laura Stevenson and the Cans/ The Wild/ Paul Baribeau/ beady/ The Ambulars
Thursday, May 27th, 2010
Skull Alley
Better than:
breakfast for dinner.

Never before has the letdown of a previous night's show effected me so anxiously the following day. As I'm beginning to piece together the blueprints for my life as a high school graduate, there has always been a nauseous skeptical feeling in the pit of my heart, even as things may seem they're going the way I wanted. Perhaps these feelings are normal, but the optimistic thrill I feel today seems like it was meant to be. Seeing Andrew Jackson Jihad at this peak in my life was destiny.

As this was my first time seeing AJJ in action, it was also my first time to attend a show at Skull Alley. Although it's small size may be climatically suffocating, the space still serves for a much more intimate show. In the long run, this is really all that matters; it's hard to pinpoint this kind of experience in the midst of a crowded arena. But the only things that keep those moments alive are the immense amount of talent and fanship that pour from the venue's walls. An exhausting familiarity found between the fans and musicians has created a close-knit environment that feels both comfortable to music scene queens and casual showgoers alike. This relationship bonds an understanding. Faulty strings and forgotten lyrics can be excused as a part of the show, and impromptu performances of cover songs are taken as a treat over filler. Attending this show has reminded me that these imperfections can sometimes transpire to be what truly complete an experience. And I guess that evening I was lucky.

Before headlining act Andrew Jackson Jihad took the stage, their predecessors of opening acts handled the small venue's spotlight surprisingly well. Among these artists was the Brooklyn-based collective Laura Stevenson and the Cans, who pounded out an impressive and moving set led under front woman Laura Stevenson's sweet croon. Paul Baribeau, a solo artist from Michigan, also presented himself quite intimately, who for a small instant was able to hush an entire venue of people.
It was mid-intermission when AJJ's Sean Bonnette broke me the news that the band's other half, Ben Gallaty, was unable to attend. In lieu of a duo performance, Sean executed a one man act of Andrew Jackson material, including both freshly written songs and older works from their debut record, People Who Can Eat People are the Luckiest People in the World. With "Rejoice" as the set's suitable opener, Sean veraciously strummed through AJJ's other standards, "No More Tears," "Brave as a Noun," and "Personal Space Invader." Near the set's close he surprised the crowd with the long awaited "People III," a song that picks up from where "People II: The Reckoning" had left off on their debut album.
It seems that despite the lack of Ben, Sean was able to perform comfortably as a solo act. Among the stage patter, Sean took time to explain some of the purposes behind his typically angry songwriting while also touching upon subjects like the nutritional mistreatment of the homeless. It was a serious inspiration to hear someone tell me to "be the best fucking human you can be."
Rest assured, I was promised by Sean that Ben will be present for their following Louisville show. Lucky for us that the group loves to play here. For those who may have missed Thursday evening's show, AJJ will be returning on June 24th for yet another round at Skull Alley. I hope to see you there.


Bobby Vinton- Blue Velvet (1963)

Like many easy listening artists of his time, there were only a handful of tracks Bobby Vinton could claim for his own. Ironically enough, the one song on this record that was actually written by Vinton himself, "Little Miss Blue," received little to no commercial success. His chart topping hits remained as the iconic "Blue Velvet" with "Blue on Blue" right on its heels, both of which played as candidates for the title of his soon to be best selling album. After being renamed Blue Velvet, this chart dominating record permanently engraved Bobby Vinton's name among the long and exclusive list of great vocalists. The remainder of the album is a diverse collection of jazz and pop covers that Vinton so willfully adapted to complete the album's blue concept. Therefore, every single track on the record has something to do with the color blue. Whether it is if Vinton himself feels like "Mr. Blue," or if he feels optimistic enough to invite you to his "Blue Heaven;" both the calming effects of Bobby's soothing, timeless voice and the color blue have a chilling inducement on the soul; the effect is almost romantic in a way.

After the success of Blue Velvet, Vinton's career was put on the back burner, although, his material continued to flourish among the Top 40. David Lynch titled his 1987 film "Blue Velvet" after the song, bringing a small wave of interest back to Vinton's music. Later on, his tracks were used in commercials and his voice was once again borrowed for something few artists can pull off with dignity: a Christmas album. He continued to release new records, but there has yet to be any to match up with Blue Velvet's success. Bobby Vinton was merely part of the curse. It's a curse where nothing you create outside of your peak years will ever overshadow your best selling material. But the older material always wins, doesn't it?