Sunday, July 27, 2014

Andrew Jackson Jihad at the Biltmore

At one point during Thursday's Andrew Jackson Jihad show at the Biltmore, one of the members looked out at the audience and observed something to the effect of, "holy shit there are a lot of people here!" There were, too; I was also surprised. I'd arrived in time to catch Hard Girls (missed Dogbreth), and enjoyed their set, which was sort of punky power pop that drew a bit, I thought, on Guided By Voices at their tightest - but as good as they were (and as excited as a fistful of moshers got when they broke into what I guess was a Misfits cover), there was plenty of room up front, which is kind of what I expected - a thin audience of the especially hip. But by the time AJJ finished their soundcheck and broke into "Temple Grandin," the first song on their album Christmas Island - which probes the well-meaning inadequacy of human responses to the "bullshit" around us (finding a "nicer way to kill it;" Grandin is a leader in making slaughterhouse designs more humane), the pit was packed, and for many of the harder songs, the crowd did things I didn't realize would be part of the Andrew Jackson Jihad experience, like, say, crowd-surfing, pretty much from the start of the show (before the first song was done, singer Sean Bonnette quipped between lyrics, "Get down!" at some guy who had risen magically up onto the audience - though whether that was "get down and boogie!" or "get down you asshole before you fall on me and break your neck" I could not say; I suspected the latter). As someone who has written about the Vancouver scene for awhile now, and who has been to many under-attended and under-appreciated shows, I felt kind of proud of how big and how appreciative the crowd was. Hey, check it out: No Fun City does the Andrew Jackson Jihad justice; these kids have GOOD TASTE. Who'd've thought?

 Mind you, it was an audience I didn't feel much in common with, liking the music aside. Except for one older woman I concluded was maybe the mom of a bandmember, no one was in my age range; seemed like the average was about 25. But they knew their shit, singing along quite loudly with the lyrics of some of the songs, including one of the band's most disturbing numbers, "Bad, Bad Things" - one of the songs of theirs I in fact frequently skip when listening to the album (People That Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, which title apparently comes from Vonnegut), because its lyrics, describing the thoughts of a murderer as he works his way through a family, are so deeply dark and creepy, outdoing even the evil of Murder Ballads. Seeing how excited people got to hear it has made me spin it all the way through a few times since, but it's still kind of unsettling! I didn't get to stick around for the whole set, what with work looming and a girlfriend to get home to, but I got to hear a few of my favourite songs by them (besides the opener, these were "Distance," "People II: The Reckoning," "Children of God," and "Kokopelli Face Tattoo."). I missed out on hearing the end of a running story that they sprinkled through their set, so I don't know what exactly happened in Revelstoke (where they were stoked to be part of the revels, ha-ha) that had deprived them of their keyboard stand; Preston Bryant's keys were supported by an ironing board throughout the night. But leaving early or not - us old fucks are like that - I totally enjoyed seeing them, and was happy to have been in such an attractive, enthusiastic audience... snapped some photos, too, and a video that might not load. Let's try, though:

Hard Girls:

Andrew Jackson Jihad:

Of course the video doesn't seem to want to load... I get an error message and then it SEEMS like nothing is happening (I might not be waiting long enough but the error message is discouraging, you know?). Maybe I'll try putting it on Youtube? If there's a link there, it worked. Check back tomorrow, eh?

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