Downtown venue The Trunk Space turned into a sauna on Friday, August 18, when a sold-out crowd of diehard AJJ fans packed the place to hear the band play a celebratory set for their 10-year-old record, People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World. And then some.
The folk-punk band that formed in Phoenix in the early 2000s often features several members. But for this current tour the band is revisiting its roots, with just the original duo of Sean Bonnette (vocals, guitar) and Ben Gallaty (bass, vocals).
After opening acts Lana Del Rabies and Diners rocked the room, the pair took the stage to perform a triumphantly uncomplicated set that started with the People record in its entirety.
Within one second of Bonnette’s voice hitting the microphone, as they launched into “Rejoice,” the place erupted into a festive singalong. Didn’t look like there was a person present who didn’t know every single word, nor did anyone refrain from belting it out.
Sometimes that amount of audience participation can ring like nails on a chalkboard, when you just want to hear a band you love deliver the goods, but last night it was just right. The audience needed to connect last night, and the organic banter between band and crowd made the exchanges intimate and fun.
Interaction is part and parcel of an AJJ show. Plenty of the band's songs are individual stories about unusual or challenging components of life that inspire a collective camaraderie that can help take the sting out of lonely moments.
Many of the people squeezed into that space last night grew up with that recording, and there was no way they could be contained.
Despite that level of audience sound, Bonnette’s impassioned and powerful voice, along with Gallaty’s deeper-toned vocals, mingled and rose to set atop the punchy guitar sounds and room full of crooners.
When they played the song “People,” the last track from the record celebrating its 10th birthday, the requests for songs started coming from every angle of the room. They took a few of those and made some of their own choices and took a little tour through their catalog, playing songs like “The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving,” “Junkie Church,” “Guilt: The Song,” and the beloved “Little Prince."
AJJ had another reason to enjoy yesterday – the band's latest release, Back in the Jazz Coffin, came out on August 18. The crowd was treated to “Fuckboi,” one of the five songs on the new EP.
They revisited their original digs and brought humor, grace, and a fiery and fun delivery of the songs that have cemented them as hometown — and now worldwide — faves. It’s just as simple as that.
2. "Brave as a Noun"
3. "Survival Song"
4. "Bad Bad Things"
5. "No More Tears"
6. "Bells & Whistles"
7. "Randy’s House"
8. "A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit"
9. "People II: The Reckoning"
10. "Personal Space Invader"
12. "The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving"
13. "Who Are You?"
14. "Love Will Fuck Us Apart"
15. "Fucc the Devil"
16. "Do, Re, and Me"
17. "Guilt: The Song"
19. "Little Prince"
20. "Junkie Church"
21. "Big Bird"
Last Night: AJJ at The Trunk Space; day three of five sold-out shows.
The crowd: Lifers.
Overheard: Pleas from fans; each hollering in hope of hearing their one most favorite AJJ tune.
Notebook dump: I might feel a little old.