Live Concert Review

Andrew Jackson Jihad, Smith Street Band, Jeff Rosenstock, Chumped

Live In Vancouver (04/04/15)

Rickshaw Theatre
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Saturday night’s show at The Rickshaw Theatre was, as a friend so eloquently put it, a stacked line up. All four bands on the bill where bands that would get me out to their show if they came by themselves – smash them all together and you’re in for one entertaining evening.

Serving as essentially a SideOneDummy Records showcase, the tour featured Andrew Jackson Jihad in the headlining spot with Australia’s Smith Street Band in direct support. Before them was the multi-instrumentalist Jeff Rosenstock and the sole non-SideOne band, the loveable pop-punk act Chumped (appearing courtesy of Anchorless Records).  It’s a line-up for the books, akin to those glorious Fat Wreck packages that happened every year back in the mid 2000s and the evening did not disappoint.

Despite a surprisingly early start for a Saturday night, New York’s Chumped played to a slowly growing crowd at 7PM. Playing mostly from their critically acclaimed Teenage Retirement, the band bounced along with their bubbly pop-punk meets indie rock music. They laughed and were in good spirits, mocking themselves and the “Woos” from the crowd and thanked the talented John DeDomenici (from Jess Rosenstock‘s band and Bomb The Music Industry) for filling in on bass. The crowd occasionally gave lukewarm reaction to them, but songs like Hot 97 Summer Jam and Name That Thing were all I needed to be pleased I got there in time to see them.

Now Jeff Rosenstock came next, with his greasy porn stache and messy hair. He introduced the band as Death Rosenstock to coincide with the new logo he had drawn for the backdrop, immediately requested that his friend bring him his long-promised pot brownie and then began the set.  And the set went exactly the way you’d expect someone who asked for a pot brownie to be delivered to go. They were sloppy, they were wild and there were moments where they messed up – but man were they fun.

Never truly understanding the cult following behind Bomb The Music Industry!, Rosenstock‘s recently released solo album, We Cool?, was really my first immersion in the song writer’s catalogue and after Saturday’s show, I can comprehend the hype. Rosenstock controls the room, he is his own man and is wild and free. A joke about going to Rock and Roll High School turned into a running gag as the band randomly would jump into the song whenever there was a moment’s silence. For the second band on a four band bill, the sheer energy the crowd gave back to him was astounding.

Australia’s Smith Street Band picked up on that energy and pumped it through the roof.  Despite never having played in Vancouver before, the Australian four piece had a rambunctious crowd waiting for them. They’re steady growth of internet fandom has done well for the anthem-rousing punk band and you could tell they were sincere in their surprise of how many people knew every word of their songs. The epicenter of the excitement came three songs in with Don’t Fuck With Our Dreams, but the energy carried through The Arrogance of Drunk Pedestrians, Something I Can Hold In My Hands, Throw Me In The River, Sigourney Weaver, Young Drunk and more. The band rarely did anything over the top or unreal, but they were solid, sweaty and delivered the stirring sing-along anthems they’ve become known for.

Finally, after an already successful night of music, the headliners hit the stage with Arizona’s folk-punk duet turned five-piece Andrew Jackson Jihad. With a full band in hand, the band began with The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving and Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi, the opening two songs from 2011’s Knife Man. Having just played in support of Christmas Island here a few months ago, AJJ, mixed things up and played a much high selection of back catalog that one would expect. Yes, there was still Temple Grandin and Children Of God, Kokopelli Face Tattoo and Linda Ronstadt, but out of nowhere came Hate Rain On Me, Sense and Sensibility People II: The Reckoning, Free Bird and Big Bird and the surprise rendition of Inner City Basehead History Teacher. Through the set, the band alternated from full five piece, to the duo and sometimes just Sean Bonnet on acoustic guitar.  The energy ebbed and flowed depending on the intensity of the song – I mean, Survival Song to I Wanna Rock Out In My Dreams call for drastically different reactions.

No matter the reaction or the tempo, I couldn’t have asked for a better show to kick off the spring touring season in Vancouver.