TVD Live: Andrew Jackson Jihad, Chumped, Jeff Rosenstock, The Smith Street Band at the Metro, 3/27

PHOTOS: MICHAEL SOLOMON | Andrew Jackson Jihad came through Chicago’s Metro last Friday, March 27, and they brought a lineup stacked with passionate and lively punk acts. The Smith Street Band, Jeff Rosenstock, and Chumped each provided their own unique style, but there was a distinct common thread shared between all the bands that made for a fantastic overall show.

It had been a couple of years since I’d been to an authentic punk show. Growing up on Long Island, I spent much of my free time going to local punk/ska shows in church basements and neighborhood bars, and these shows taught me that the energy of a great punk show can be something special. When lyrics are shared rather than performed, and when there is a unifying spirit in the room which blurs the line between performer and audience. Friday’s show at the Metro brought back all of these feelings, and reminded me how extraordinary a punk show can be.

Chumped started things off and fit wonderfully as the opener. The female led 4-piece has a sound that lands somewhere between Alkaline Trio and The Get Up Kids, and their upbeat melodies had everyone bobbing their heads. Their catchy “Something About Lemons” contained a strong build-up and climax that landed particularly well with the audience.

Next up was Jeff Rosenstock on his first full-band solo tour. I first started seeing Rosenstock on Long Island with his first band, a punk/ska group called The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches, and then later with his underground punk sensation Bomb The Music Industry!. He’s now gone solo and is promoting his new album, We Cool? Rosenstock’s solo group radiated energy and embraced an anything can happen mentality throughout their set.

At one point, Rosenstock broke his microphone stand and joked that he might have to perform as Freddie Mercury for the rest of the show, then proceeded to sing about half of Queen’s, “Don’t Stop Me Now,” as different band members joined in for whatever lyrics they happened to remember. Rosenstock’s songwriting is often a brutally honest reflection on his life as a 30+ year old, beer loving loner, and when he steps up to the microphone he becomes the living embodiment of his words. He can drive the crowd wild by pushing his voice to its physical limit, but then silence it by dropping down to just an impassioned whisper and barely audible guitar strums. It was one of the most memorable and wacky sets of the night, and by the sound of the crowd at the end it seemed like there were a number of new converts.

The Smith Street Band came on next and delivered a solid set of alternative folk punk. The Australian natives kept a consistent vibe throughout their set, and their singer Wil Wagner seemed to have a blast bouncing around the stage. While the performance may have lacked diversity of mood and song choice, it fit well with the atmosphere and many of their die-hard fans could be heard singing along with their favorite songs.

After a short break, Andrew Jackson Jihad walked onstage to the roaring welcome of the crowd. As they began their folk-punk classics such as, “People II: The Reckoning,” and “Big Bird,” the sold-out audience screamed with excitement and joined in to fill the venue with rousing lyrics about political injustice and social anxieties. Lead singer Sean Bonnette’s baritone voice sliced through the room with impressive ease, and the instrumentation was warm and crisp. The connection formed between the band and the audience was unequivocal, and the band members were beaming. For their encore, AJJ busted out a delightfully surprising cover of Slayer’s “South of Heaven.” I remember looking at Bonnette with his acoustic, rocking out on his knees to their folk rendition of the metal classic, and realized that this might be the only place on earth to witness such an awesome site.

Each band made a point of expressing how thrilled they were to be playing with such great acts and in such a historic venue, and it was clear the crowd was equally excited to be part of the experience. If you’re a punk fan, new or old, be sure to catch this incredible lineup.

CHUMPED

JEFF ROSENSTOCK

THE SMITH STREET BAND

ANDREW JACKSON JIHAD

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