American Nightmare / Pissed Jeans - live in Allston (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

American Nightmare / Pissed Jeans

live in Allston (2018)

live show

American Nightmare returned to Boston for this rather swell package tour that included like-minded hardcore (generally speaking, of course) acts Pissed Jeans, Protester, and Spiritual Cramp. AN played Boston about a year and a half ago, so while this wasn’t some sort of long-awaited return, they were playing fresh off their brand new, self-titled album (first in nearly 15 years) and to a very sold-out Brighton Music Hall venue.

Spiritual Cramp kicked it off. They’ve got a great, pretty unique sound that I can’t describe any better than what Stereogum mentioned about them -- that they harken to the time in the early ‘80s when punk and post-punk was pretty much the same thing. It’s a bit more on the punk tip than some of their members’ other band, Creative Adult, but certainly under the same loose subgenre heading. In any event, with AN’s more recent post-punk inclinations, this made them a great fit for the show. They were also very entertaining and full of energy. They had a dedicated tambourine player constantly jumping around, and the singer was always gyrating to the beat. He seemed to reference some personal depression issues (I’m paraphrasing lightly, but he introduced one song about “looking in the mirror everyday and hating what you see”) and it gave his impassioned yelps some pretty resonant gravitas. They played just about all of their recent (and enjoyable) EP, Mass Hysteria, and were pretty tight for all of the 16 minutes they were on stage.

D.C. straight-edge band Protester followed them up. While they were easily the most straightforward act on the bill, and there are a lot of current bands doing what they do, I’ve always thought they were a definite cut above the rest. It’s straightforward hardcore that if you had to place in an era, it’s probably mid-’80s, but it’s well-done and catchy, in the vein of their D.C. forbears like 86 Mentality and Set to Explode. I think they may have opened with the entirety of their very solid 2015 EP, No Identity, perhaps as a nod to the locality of the label -- Triple B -- who put it out. From there they played just about half of their 2017 LP, Hide from Reality (which I’ve yet to check out, actually), including “Fight It Off”, “Transparency”, “Nothing to Me” and “Mindless Acceptance”. They mixed a new song in there too called “Shut It”, off an upcoming release on a new D.C. label they mentioned. The crowd hadn’t picked up too much by this point, besides an excited bald man impulsively climbing onto the stage to shout along some lyrics into the mic, but the set seemed well-appreciated and things were starting to warm up. It was, funny enough, another efficient 16-minute set too.

Pissed Jeans began with something I couldn’t tell was either a classic hardcore cover or an old song of theirs. It’s often hard to tell with frontman Matt Korvette’s slurred vocals. But it was cool all the same, and the songs became a little more recognizable as the set went on: In fact, when they kicked out “The Bar Is Low”, a big highlight from last year’s Why Love Now, the crowd officially started to go off, with a big, sloppy pit forming. Korvette was his usual, entertainingly strange self, feeling up his torso (ripping a big hole in his nice henley shirt at one point), talking about how great a chest shaved two weeks prior feels, leaving the stage for a couple minutes to watch his band play from the green room balcony, and coming close to taking his pants off at another point. He ended up in the crowd for a little bit too, of course. The band’s ferocious mix of hardcore, noise rock and a little post-punk/hardcore was on point, the rest of the band in a steady workmanship role keeping the beat while Korvette did his snotty thing.

Set list (9:34-10:06):

  1. ?

  2. ?

  3. Love Without Emotion

  4. The Bar Is Low

  5. (Won’t Tell You) My Sign


  6. Cold Whip Cream


  7. ?

  8. Romanticize Me

  9. False Jesii Part 2

American Nightmare finally came on stage just shy of a half-hour later, setting the mood with what sounded like an abbreviated version of “(It’s Sometimes Like It Never Started)”, the intro from their 2003 album, We’re Down ‘Til We’re Underground. Then they blasted into the anthemic “Hearts” and took it from there with a nearly non-stop 16-song set that only paused once or twice for frontman Wes Eisold to thank the openers; blue and red lights flashed as the crowd went bonkers for just about the whole set, even the new songs. Speaking of which, they blended in pretty well with the old stuff; after all, “The World Is Blue” has that great break in the middle where the guitars drop out and you can perfectly envision a sudden two-step happening. Of course, the deathrock shuffle of “Gloom Forever” and dramatic post-punk of “Crisis of Faith” didn’t get quite the response old favorites like “Love American” and “Farewell” did, but they sounded great and I didn’t see anyone necessarily scoffing or anything; everyone still seemed to be having a good time, especially the belligerent drunks in the back of the pit.

Set list (10:33-11:05):

  1. (It’s Sometimes Like It Never Started)

  2. Hearts

  3. Flowers Under Siege

  4. AM/PM


  5. The World Is Blue

  6. Postmark My Compass

  7. The Ice Age Is Coming

  8. Dream

  9. American Death

  10. Love American

  11. Gloom Forever

  12. Shoplifting in a Ghost Town

  13. I Saved Latin

  14. War

  15. Farewell

  16. There’s a Black Hole in the Shadow of the Pru

    Encore (11:07-11:13):

  17. Crisis of Faith

  18. We Are

VIDEO of just about the entire set