Last night marked the first time I have spent money on Jeff Rosenstock, and I'm now encouraged to do it more often. Bomb the Music Industry! seems that little bit sweeter when everyone, not just yourself, is getting something awesome out of it.
Jeff and his iPod have been fighting through the snow on a tour of the UK for the past few weeks and last night ended up in the basement of Manchester's Tiger Lounge, a not-quite-venue, not-quite-pub and not-quite-nightclub with ridiculously friendly bar staff and too much fake tiger print. With his tour-induced beard, Jeff held court, happily chatting to whoever approached him and watching the opening bands from the bar.
First on was Sam Russo, who was drunk to the point of charming and had a lot of angry folk songs about losing his job and getting drunk. He was a good storyreller between songs that were loud, brash and fast, kind of like Ghost Mice without the violin, and we made sure to pick up a copy of his CD after he was finished.
Next was Andrzej Stepien, a similar, yet more thoughtful fellow with his fair share of love songs and harmonica sections. The standard singer-songwriter opening fare, really. You can't complain.
Al Baker & the Dole Queue were a pleasant surprise, firstly because they were really good, and secondly because they sounded much more Irish than I expected them to. Reminiscent of Flogging Molly, but with an accordian instead of a fiddle and a bigger emphasis on acoustic guitars, they were great fun and finally dragged more of the crowd towards the front.
Of course, when Bomb the Music Industry! hit the stage, the place exploded a bit. The crowd was tiny, but there were a dedicated few of us at the front, dancing, singing and confusing Jeff with endless song requests, most of which he did his best to honour. There were also some pleasant surprises in the form of covers of Lemuria's "Yesterday's Lunch," an Andrew Jackson Jiihad song I didn't recognise and some new songs which sounded great, but fell a little because the crowd didn't know them.
Highlights included "Congratulations John on Joining Every Time I Die" for pure sing-along potential, all of "King of Minneapolis" and any moment when the crowd spilled on to the 'stage,' or when Jeff forced his way into the crowd, which, actually, was most of the time. He was very sweaty and had amazing chemistry with the crowd. The man is a pure entertainer.
The only bad thing was that, even after a 40-minute set, it still didn't seem long enough, and I couldn't help but feel cheated afterwards. It felt like just as we'd got going, it was all over.