Andrew Jackson Jihad

support Caves
author PP date 13/10/14 venue Huset, Copenhagen, DEN

It's monday night, which usually means punk related shows tend to be fairly empty unless it's a far more well-known band. Tonight, Huset is rammed already by the time I get there, full of faces I never see at any of the other local shows. Is it the central location of the venue that draws such a crowd, because I wonder, where is everyone normally when awesome small bands come to town? It could of course also be that the extremely vivid and laugh-out-loud hilarious showing by Andrew Jackson Jihad as a Frank Turner support earlier this year has opened the eyes of many new fans for the band. Either way, awesome to see so many people for once at one of these types of shows, especially since it is absolutely pouring outside so it requires an extra effort to make it out tonight.

Caves

Caves

First up are the Bristol, UK-based Caves, whose distortion-driven garage punk is quite a different musical experience from the singer-songwriter type material of Andrew Jackson Jihad. Consisting of a miniscule female guitarist, a long-haired male bassist, and a drummer this trio sure knows how to make noise and get the night going. It takes about two songs of their heavily RVIVR-inspired punk 'n' noise to impress yours truly, especially when their showmanship is drenched in sheer energy and joy of playing. Though Lou and Minty spend lengthy periods with their backs to the crowd, they do so while thrashing low down, rubbing their instruments against the amps, doing scissor jumps and generally demonstrating so much energy it's difficult to not be inspired by these guys. Halfway through, a group of kids mow down space at the front by shaking their bodies around like it's Ramones style 70s pop punk era again. It's pretty funny as it looks like they're having a seizure, but it quickly rubs onto other members of the crowd and soon everyone is bobbing their heads along. And why wouldn't they? Live performances don't often come with this much raw passion and oozing of honesty. Plus there's a fantastic dynamic going on as most songs are played almost straights with few pauses in between. High-energy noise punk with ridiculously catchy, screechy guitar melodies and clean vocals. I'll be seeing these guys again in the future for sure.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Last time they were here, Andrew Jackson Jihad were performing as a two piece. Tonight, they are here with a full band as a five piece, which is a completely different AJJ experience as we shall come to see soon. They enter the stage with their jokingly attitude, proclaiming that we are much better than Germany, but that we shouldn't tell them that. Such insights are shared throughout the night in between the songs, such as when the vocalist tells us the trick to have dry socks after a live show - don't wear any shoes or socks while you play. Interesting. Opening with "Temple Grandin" from new album "Christmas Island", they go straight for the catchy roughened melodies and upbeat, folksy rhythm that gets the venue pumped straight away. Many newer songs follow until "People II: The Reckoning" that people start people singing along in small-scale. Now enthusiastic to hear their favorite songs, people are shouting song titles at the band, to which they respond by playing a very brief parody of koRn's "Twist", which provokes some laughter from the crowd's side. Soon after, vocalist Bonnette ditches his acoustic guitar to go freehand with the microphone, which is one of the more energetic moments tonight.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

This is the cue for the rest of the band to slowly exit the stage to allow Bonnette some solo time with his acoustic guitar by his lonesome. "Do, Re, And Me" follows together with "Brave As A Noun" and "Rejoice", which draws a small sing and clap along. He starts "People II 2: Still Peoplin'" by himself as well but here the band joins in progressively towards the end of the song for a super upbeat ending. You could be forgiven to think this is the end of the show, or at least the encore, but they're just getting started. For about 90 minutes in total the band go on and on and on and on in a set that starts to feel unnecessarily long especially when the good material starts dwindling down and the general flaws in their studio albums overall start manifesting themselves. Thing is, when you add the full instrumentation you remove a lot of the attitude and spotlight on the lyrics which is what makes Andrew Jackson Jihad interesting in the first place. Much like Frank Turner when he added the full band, the melodies seem only supplemental to the acoustic guitar driven songs, which is a shame, because I feel like they are more enjoyable when the band are playing as a two-piece only. That said, Turner also experienced issues with this approach until it clicked properly on "Tape Deck Heart", so it remains to be seen if AJJ are able to do the same in the future.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

And so we go through "Hate Song For Brains", "Little Prince (Principito)", "Linda Ronstadt" and a number of other tracks, but by this point you can just tell the show is dragging on a little bit. The crowd is slowly dispersing as people start leaving, the sing alongs cease and the experience becomes much like AJJ on record: some moments of brilliance stacked in between lots and lots of material that ranges from meh to decent. Finally, a 'fake encore' later, "Big Bird" provides one more excellent moment by progressively getting louder and louder, before they opt to finish the set by covering "Plush" by Stone Temple Pilots.

In the end, the set feels rather nondescript because of its length, despite having a number of highlight moments in between. But with less energy on stage (thanks to the full band), I feel like Caves come out as the winner tonight for their simply irresistible set that started against a largely hostile crowd but won most of them over by the end of it, despite AJJ clearly having the bigger audience.

Photos by: Philip B Hansen

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