Thursday, May 27th, 2010
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.