Positivity would probably not be the first word to come to mind when describing a folk-punk performance, a genre typically defined by its poetics about the #firstworldproblems of American lifestyle. However, last night’s show at the Knitting Factory in Williamsburg had anything but a negative vibe. It’s easy to imagine that after a summer of touring, a steamy Saturday show in Brooklyn would be the last thing anyone would be looking forward to, but upon entering the venue, one could sense that the bands were as excited to be there as fans were to see the lineup; featuring Jeffrey Lewis and the Bolts, Sharkanoid, Ian Graham, and the headlining folk-punk veterans, Andrew Jackson Jihad.
Beginning as a duo of frontman Sean Bonnette and bassist Ben Gallaty, Andrew Jackson Jihad quickly gained notoriety for their unique lyrical style. Self-admittedly drawing from influences such as Neutral Milk Hotel and The Mountain Goats, the Phoenix, Arizona based outfit’s latest LP, Christmas Island (2013), has been hailed as a defining work for the band by owning their sublimely grotesque lyrics more than ever before. The Jihad has found a special unique niche within the folk and punk genres, with fans obviously connecting to Bonettes lyrics as the main draw. Rather than offering catchy diatribes, his insights are striaghtforward, emotional, poignant, and often darkly humorous. The band is fresh from a UK summer tour, and now having played a handful of shows in the tri-state area, will head down-under this September touring Australia with The Smith Street Band. For the world travelers, last night’s show seemed more like a homecoming than just another leg on a tour.