First, check that diaphoretic haze creeping over the windows behind Andrew Jackson Jihad singer/songwriter Sean Bonnette in the photo at right. No, that's not a misty fall night in Chicago — the stars hung clear as diamonds outside, and that's condensation fueled by pure body heat, folks. Which is to say that this AJJ acoustic performance at Chicago's new one-stop shop for metalheads and sci-fi geeks, Bucket O' Blood, turned out to resemble an in-store performance less than a sweaty house show, replete with a plastic tub full of PBR in the back.
Although I'd never listened to Andrew Jackson Jihad before last Wednesday, RFC editor-in-chief Amber strong-armed talked me into showing up to check this one out. I have to admit, I got into Sean Bonnette's nervy, Ted Leo-meets-Elvis Costello punk yelp, and the show turned out to be a blast, even if the ambiance veered a bit toward emo-bro at a couple of points (I described the show via text to Amber as "dudes grabbing each others [sic] rattails while shouting verbose lyrics about the sympathetic nervous system").
Matt Arbogast of The Gunshy opened up the show with a few gravelly blue-collar anthems and a great self-directed throwaway line about how "this fucker sounds just like Tom Waits," the latter of which got some raucous, knowing laughter from the kids packed into the tiny storefront. Still, the night belonged to Sean Bonnette, as evidenced by the blast of shouting voices that joined him every time he smashed out a staccato note on his guitar and sang a linchpin line semi-a cappella.
Me, I stayed busy fishing unattended Pabst Blue Ribbons out of Ye Old Plastic Tub and stuffing them into my messenger bag (this being the Wednesday before payday and all), but rest assured that I plan to dive into the entire Andrew Jackson Jihad discography as soon as I stop slaving my ears over My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy. As I learned at Wednesday's show, AJJ sport a rather awesomely sardonic take on punk culture, slackerdom and the feeling of growing up as an outsider — not to mention a way with a record store full of drunk underage punks.
And, in conclusion, I came away with about eight free beers — and it was the best summer vacation ever. Thanks for the tip, Amber!