Jeff Rosenstock Saturn 1-26

kickass photo courtesy of Phillip Murray

Crowd surfing and anthems of apathy are alive again. Thank god.

I’ll admit this was not my usual pre-concert ritual. Instead of the absent stirring of the drink in the back of the very familiar concert haul watching sound techs shuffle around the stage in between sets, I was running seriously late- in the midst of an already 5 hour long birthday party event for my boss that began over burgers and now drinks in Birmingham’s Avondale district. I had arranged this ahead of time you see; while obligated as one of my office’s principal partygoers to help organize this evening’s reverie, I had my eye on Rosenstock’s upcoming engagement for months and I lowkey manipulated things well in advance for the ability to duck down a couple blocks and get my fix.

So let’s say I was in a good mood when I breezed into Saturn sometime after 10pm and walked into the main hall to see Mr. Rosenstock. When you tell people in my line of work you are going to see someone named Jeff Rosenstock play a show, you are met with quizzical glances on why I would be going to see some singer/songwriter this late at night. Rosenstock’s name alone may not conjure images of fist pumping, screaming into the mic anthems pulsing rock and roll, but upon arrival and seeing the Backdrop Designed To Trigger All Prudes (what appeared to be a Pride flag, with a 666 surrounded by pot leaves, pictured above), I believe all pre-conceptions would be erased by the more observant music fan.

And speaking of observant music fans, let’s talk about that. Rosenstock surprise-dropped a new album at the beginning of 2018, simply titled POST- it includes one of the most unlikely cultural anthems of some time, the seemingly optimistic title of “USA” but with some hauntingly familiar lyrics:

Well, they promised us the stars
Well, they promised us the stars We’re tired, we’re bored
We’re tired, we’re bored
Et tu, USA
Et tu, et tu, USA
We’re tired, we’re bored
We’re tired, we’re bored
Et tu, USA

This is sang as a group along chant, at the ending of what is already a six and a half minute single, and this guy usually LEADS OFF his show with this one. Hold on a sec, young people in the crowd screaming along about being exhausted and unfulfilled and snarkily blaming our country’s values for creating this mess? Oh be still, my heart. Where is my Nirvana shirt. Rosenstock tears through his set, including one of my favorites, “Wave Goodbye To Me” with an all-hands-on-deck group vocal blast of a chorus.

The crowd is in a form that is really worth note- crowd surfing, stage diving, singing along. There probably would be lighters aloft if anyone still smoked. What I mean is, in an era of white indie rock kids standing around hands-in-hoodie quietly but not demonstrably appreciating music, this was a welcome change and felt like I was at a fucking ROCK SHOW for once. Jeff winded things down with a loving callout to the days of Cave 9, a jaunt through the crowd with a saxophone, and the slow momentum building train of “We Begged 2 Explode” before holding a somewhat fan-vote on the encore. As the lights came up on the emotionally and physically spent crowd, Jeff instructs his sound tech to “play some motherfuckin’ Red Hot Chili Peppers”. No, the party isn’t over tonight- and neither is the feeling of vintage, hard earned rock and roll.

You can find Jeff Rosenstock’s catalogue on his site, including pay-what-you-feel versions of select albums at http://quoteunquoterecords.com/albums.htm 

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