On July 30, 2014 I went to the Troubadour in Hollywood to see Andrew Jackson Jihad. I had seen them as a two-piece back in November and seeing as how they were touring as a full band this time, I thought it would be interesting to see how the two different band line-ups would compare.
The first band was called Dogbreth form Phoenix, Arizona. They are a solid, up and coming band that has sort of a garage rock/indie sound. Up next was Hard Girls from San Joe, California. I had heard so many good things about this band, but for some reason never got around to listening to them until I saw them at this show. They played a bunch of songs off their album A Thousand Surfaces like "Die Slow," "Screw," 996 Tears," "Plan" and "Sign of the Dune." But they totally won me over when they played "The Quark" and their cover of "Angelfuck" by The Misfits.
Around 10:30 p.m. Andrew Jackson Jihad finally got on stage. They're set list had a pretty wide range of their material. They played older material like "Hate Song for Brains," "Hate Rain on Me" and "American Tune," "Rejoice," "You Don't Deserve Yourself," "Free Bird," "People II: The Reckoning," "Guilt: The Song" and others. But they balanced all that older material out with songs from their new album Christmas Island like "Temple Grandin," "Children of God," "Linda Ronstadt" and "Kokopelli Face Tattoo." But its not like they tried keeping every member of the band on stage to play in every song. The band knew when it was appropriate for some of them to sit out during a song or two or stay and play vital parts of the song. You could tell they really tried to plan out the show out to be as accurate to the recordings as possible.
There were a few notable occurrences during AJJ's performance that really stood out to me though. The first one was that Sean sang "Do, Re, and Me" without playing his guitar. He just held the microphone, while Preston took over the guitar part. Sean was dancing and flailing around and actually did a somersault and cartwheel on stage during the song. That was incredibly entertaining. Also, Ben took on some of the lead vocals during "Coffin Dance," which was definitely new. And for their last song they played "Big Bird." I have to say that there is nothing quite as powerful as hearing that song played live with the full band. It was the perfect way to the end the show.
Seeing AJJ live as a two-piece or as a full band are two very different shows. Seeing them as a two-piece is way more intimate of a performance, but at the same time if you want to hear their songs played as accurately as possible, and show intimacy isn't as much of a concern for you, then seeing them as a full band might suit you more. But I have to admit that hearing "Fucc the Devil" played with the precise instrumentation and guitar solo live was really cool. One show isn't necessarily better than the other. Both they were equally great, but they were just extremely different experiences.
I had one issue with this show though. And it wasn't any of the bands' faults, nor was it the venue's fault. I have been to shows at the Troubadour before, and they were all a lot of fun, but this time the crowd did put a bit of damper on the show. I don't know if it was because it was in Los Angeles (I guess there's a stigma against shows here) or because it seemed like a lot of the audience were about to start their second year of high school or what, but a lot of them were incredibly obnoxious towards Andrew Jackson Jihad. I'm fully aware that shouting out songs you want to hear live to the band is always going to happen at a show, but at this show it went beyond the line. You could see that the members of Andrew Jackson Jihad were getting annoyed and frustrated, but they powered through it regardless and put on one hell of a show.