I remember my first time listening to Andrew Jackson Jihad. The eclectic name of the band was stuck in my head after seeing my friend wearing a t-shirt with their name on it. Browsing online I looked them up and when I first heard the lines “I like telling dirty jokes and I like smoking crystal meth” from Darling I Love You, I was hooked. From that moment on, I was determined to see them live.
After I got into Le Poisson Rouge there was the sound of commotion coming from down stairs. Passing the merchandise table, I looked through the corridor to see the small venue packed with fans. Making my way through the crowd, I eventually found myself ten feet away from Sean Bonnette with Ben Gallaty to his left. Standing in that room, there was at atmosphere of closeness and excitement. The audience was a mix between the casual stand back and listen type to people clumping together swaying in unison in a punk manner.
The performance was a dynamic mix of songs that would rally up the crowd into a jubilee to songs that you would just want to calmly take in. At one point during the show I was jumping in the air screaming “Tra-alalalala-a-lay” to one of their new songs “Children of God.” At another point I joined the audience in raising lighters to the air listening to Bonnette sing. The experience was an overall mix of explosion and contemplation
One of the songs that they played which really embodied this mixture was “People II 2: Still Peoplin’.” The size of the venue really lent itself to the intimacy of this song as one could hear the audience singing with the band in unison. The piece itself was mostly acoustic and vocal driven with lyrics about human suffering with a loud powerful ending. It went from a calm sing along to lights flashing and distortion rolling through.
Andrew Jackson Jihad is a band that manifests folk punk hands on take to music with lyrics that evoke shock as well as reach out to the listener. Being able to stand so close to the band made me feel as a part of the show rather than just an audience member. The group finished the set with “Big Bird” and immediately got demands for one more song, but time was all out. As I left the Le Poisson Rouge I stopped by the merchandise table and got a shirt that had the band’s name written in sign language letters on it. Perhaps it would catch someone else’s eye and perhaps it will eventually lead them to not just a show, but an experience.
Article by: Hayden Johnson