Andrew Jackson Jihad @ Crescent Ballroom| 11/18/12
Last night was what homecoming show is all about. Almost a year has passed since Andrew Jackson Jihad's last hometown show, so there was plenty of anticipation. The show progressively got better and better, leading up to a very unexpected and excellent ending.
I'm fairly confident that this was the best Andrew Jackson Jihad show I have ever seen, providing an all too friendly reminder of how lucky we are to have this band hail from Phoenix.
"Thank you guys very much, this is fun. Words can express how much I love this fucking city. The time I spend here is incredible and precious," said singer and guitarist Sean Bonnette before "Hate Rain on Me." The sentiment was nice, albeit a little poorly timed. "It's a complicated relationship. It's like a rainbow in the dark," he added.
We can all relate to these mixed feelings about the city -- some truly great people live here, even if local politicians don't always have our best interests at heart. Plus, it's hot as balls and we all probably wish we could shoot the sun sometimes just so we can finally wear some sweatpants.
The band seemed just as pleased to be here as the fans going crazy to classics like "Little Prince." The tour threw them a number of tribulations, from canceling shows due to Hurricane Sandy to having a van broke down.
"You know what I don't like on this tour? The hurricanes, the broken down cars, the snow storms, the time I messed up my nail," complained bassist Ben Gallaty, giving Bonnette the perfect opportunity to add a sarcastic, "poor you." "I have no complaints about anybody on this tour," adds Gallaty, "but hurricanes are named after people."
The show started strong and continued to escalate from there, as Bonnette pointed out the lack of an upright bass and called the instrument "an asshole," prompting bassist Ben Gallaty to reply, "You would give me a hard time about that, wouldn't you? Feel free to yell really mean things to me," as the band launched into Can't Maintain's "We Didn't Come Here to Rock," which sounded even better with added keyboard.
The whopping 26-song setlist included quite a few tracks from Can't Maintain and Knife Man, as well as a few new songs such as "Kokopeli Face Tattoo" and the new-ish "Inner City Basehead History Teacher" from the Bringing it Together Like Pangea compilation. The darkest, yet somehow most hilarious song was tentatively called "Hashtag Armageddon." The song dealt with kids documenting the end of the world with camera phones and tweeting about it (#armageddon, duh) while demons with King Diamond/Peter Criss face make up pranced around.
"This song is old and dirty," said Bonnette, introducing "People II: The Reckoning," the first of all three "People"s. Bonnette could have very well performed this song by himself, but it sounded so much better with a full band. All of the "People"s had a drastically different feel, with the first (just "People") prompting the crowd to jubilantly sing along--God, I love people sometimes as well.
Third was "People II 2: Still Peoplin'," which was performed during Bonnette's solo suite. Folks quietly sang along, which made the lyrics really stand out. It was an eerie reminder that ss much as we may cringe about people getting hit by cars or homeless men chugging mouthwash, "we're all two or three bad decisions away from the ones we fear and pity."
The somber moment was interrupted by some folks chatting near the stage, so Bonnette struck back with an explanation of the Salad Glove mentioned in the song. He said it's used for the hard to reach leaves at the bottom of a salad bowl, with the tag line "fist fuck your hunger."
After "American Tune," most of the band left the stage, leaving Bonnette to play five solo acoustic songs. The raucous sing-alongs to "Rejoice" were a weird build up to the somber "Hashtag Armageddon," but one thing was for sure-- we were all intently listening. The rest of the band came back for the end of "People II: Still Peoplin'" and a very energetic "Heartilation."
Bonnette gave his thanks to the other bands and said this tour has been "honor and a privilege." He warned that what was going to happen next was going to "be fucking epic," as some of the other musicians hopped on stage for "Big Bird." Bonnette jumped in the crowd towards the end, which I feebly tried to capture on video--
Afterwards, fans requested a bunch of songs, which sounded like a hurl of insults (ie. "You Don't Want to Fuck With Me" and "Fuck White People"). Bonnette hushed them by saying, "Fuck 'Freebird,' this one's way better. We tend to do better with songs we don't know," he said, inviting Julia Ruzicka from Future of the Left to the stage.
There was no indication of what was going to happen next, until everyone anxiously stared at Ruzicka until she sang the familiar haunting hum of The Pixies' classic, "Where is my Mind?"
Setlist: We Didn't Come Here to Rock Distance Inner City Basehead History Teacher You Don't Deserve Yourself Sad Songs So Mad at you Kokopeli Face Tattoo Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi People II: The Reckoning Bad Stuff Back Pack Fucc the Devil American Tune Rejoice Hashtag Armaggedon Sense, Senibility Black Dog People II: Still Peoplin' Heartilation Hate & Kill A Song in Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit Hate Rain on Me Love Will Fuck Us Apart Little Prince Big Bird Where Is My Mind? (Pixies Cover)
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Critic's Notebook: Last Night: Andrew Jackson Jihad at Crescent Ballroom. Personal Bias: I bought #186/200 of Issue Problems a long time ago. The Crowd: Almost sold out and full of all ages folks rocking out. Overheard: "We're taller than every band...except for Aaron Burke [of the Minibosses]."-- Ben Gallaty Random Notebook Dump: "What is this Bill Clinton shit?" when I first spotted the sax.