I have never experienced a show quite like the Andrew Jackson Jihad one at Sunshine before. First off, I was on the rail a feat I rarely accomplished, second, I was actually there to see the opening band more than the closer and finally, I was one of about 10 people actually excited to see the band. AJJ really has little in common with the Drop Kick Murphys, the band that they were opening for that fine summer evening, and the members of the crowd made that perfectly clear by showing little to no enthusiasm for the band. That didn’t stop AJJ from constantly thanking them for the opportunity to play for them and for being able to open for such a legendary punk band. The humbleness that came from the band was so awesome that their jovial personality was off the charts. I felt like these were guys I could walk up to at a party and have a deep conversation about music with and little did I know there was much more in store for me that night. They played through their set fairly quickly, only playing about two songs off of Knife Man, the only album I know by them but those couple of songs were amazing. Even though so few people were interested they sang with as much angst as on the album and songs like “Hate Rain On Me” and “Fucc The Devil” excited me more than I thought I would. I was literally knocking into people as I jumped up and down screaming along, almost loud enough that they heard me (I hope). Drop Kick Murphy fans did not appreciate this but just like that their set was done and they were gone. I didn’t even recognize a ¼ of their songs but it was still so cool.
The night only got cooler, because after the Drop Kick Murphys set, we had the chance to go see AJJ again at an after show at the Gasworks. In all honesty I would have rather saw AJJ again than the Murphys but we stoically stayed through until the end and sped to the Gasworks paranoid that we would miss any of their performance. Of course we ended up waiting like an hour at the Gasworks for them to come on anyways but what can you do. The band they had come on before was some local hipster band that did easily the coolest cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain” that honestly became my anthem of the summer. Other than that they seemed to just be filler for the jam-packed Gasworks to create even more hype.
AJJ came on stage around midnight and immediately broke into song. I honestly can’t remember which, but they did play a lot more tracks off of Knife Man which made my night easily 10 times better. As I said before, the Gasworks was jam-packed, shoulder to should with sweaty hipsters. There was absolutely no AC and being in a large warehouse, the circulation was abysmal. It easily got to 115 degrees in there and some wise guys thought it would be a good idea to spray water into the air every couple of minutes only adding to the humidity.
Even with all of those negatives, it was a fucking awesome show. The crowd attempted to mosh to each and every song but it really was just people pushing into each other and failing their bodies around but because it was so jam packed it was just a sea of people moving forward and back but not actually getting anywhere due to the mass of people. Sweat was everywhere and my arms and face were instantly slick with moisture from every possible origin. My voice was hoarse and gone within two Knife Man tracks and it felt so rewarding to be that close to the band only three hours ago I was watching from behind a rail. It was extremely intimate and really the only way to see AJJ live I feel like. They seemed right at home, playing at midnight, in an old warehouse with sweaty hipsters getting oh so close to falling onto the performance area due to the sheer rowdiness with unbearable heat radiating everywhere. It was frankly one of the best experiences of the summer seeing them be so at home in such a unique setting and to top it all off they played my all time favorite song by them, “Backpack.” It is a fairly depressing song and one I do not think they play live much but I like to think they heard me yelling it at Sunshine and again at the Gasworks until they finally gave in. I remember vividly being next to Ruben and putting my arm around him, hugging him close as we sang our angst away, realizing how great our lives really were but loving the chance to listen to such tormented but fun music in one of the best settings for it.