Unless you’ve spent most of this summer living under a rock, you’ve seen that AJJ is going around to literally every city that will let them in on their massive, 46 date People Who Can Eat People Are The Luckiest People In The World 10 year anniversary tour. Kicking off in their hometown of Phoenix, AZ with a five night stand, they’ll be traversing the country until about mid-December (with an Australian tour in there for good measure). So when they came to do a double header at the Subterranean in Chicago, we jumped at the chance to go.
When the tour was originally announced, Chicago was only scheduled for one show. Naturally, that sold out almost immediately and another, earlier show was added on. It would be that matinee performance that would have Brian and me racing to get to in time for the way-too-fucking-early start time of 6PM. Walking in at a respectable 6:05, I had figured the sold out venue would be half empty, given the whole day job thing that most of us have to deal with it.
That assumption was immediately cast down, as I was greeted by a wall of people at the top of the venue’s staircase. Though the early show was billed as All Ages, I saw more wristbands than X’d hands. This was later verified during the set break, when I accidentally pee’d in a urinal full of puke. There must have been one of AJJ’s early years crust punk fans still in attendance, though all in all their crowd of scummy (read: unbathed) crust punks seem to have been abandoned them. It could have been the major label distribution. It could have been the name change. Either way, I was happy to not see them starting fights, begging for beer, or checking Facebook on their parent’s new iPhone at the show.
The vibe was reserved for the start of Ogikubo Station‘s opening set. I would chalk that up to the fact that it wasn’t even dinner time yet, and that most people didn’t understand who they were seeing. A relatively new project (this performance marked show #14 for the duo), Ogikubo consists of scene heavy hitters Mike Park (Skankin’ Pickle, Bruce Lee Band, Asian Man Records) and Maura Weaver (Mixtapes, Boys). Prior to the performance, I had known of the group but not yet given them a spin. Something I definitely regret, as their flowing chords and trade off harmonies sounded great for a band that has to practice for shows via Skype.
There was a general sense of humor through out their set, with Park making “don’t you know who I am???” jokes about how much money he’s made on the release of People Who Can Eat People. You could tell they were having fun with it. And if anything is going to get you into a set of a band you haven’t listened to before…that’s it. By the end, they were playing from the floor while trying to get the best crowd picture possible. Definitely give their March self-titled release a spin!
One of the benefits of playing an all-acoustic show is that there is nothing really to tear down or set up in between bands. As such, AJJ began their set pretty quickly, with a late show breathing down their necks. Sean and Ben got right into it, wasting little time and playing most of the album as three to four song melodies. They did take a few breaks to note how much harder it is to play three song bursts (specifically “No More Tears” to “Randy’s House”) and point out that it was exactly ten years to the day the album was released. In the crowd, the sound was a mix of band and audience, with faithful fans shouting out lyrics that have been burned into their mind for the last decade. This was especially prevalent during the alliterative opening to “A Song Dedicated to the Memory of Stormy the Rabbit”. All in all, it was everything you would hope it to be. Stripped down from their recent full band incarnation, sweaty, frantic, and perfectly played.
They closed out the hour-long set with a smattering of songs from their other releases. I would have more to say about it but a) I forgot how much of an emotionally taxing album People Who Can Eat People is b) they were definitely saving the hits for the late set c) my notebook slipped out of my pocket after the show, so what little detail I had written are lost to the sands of time or a dirty Blue line L train seat.
Check out photos of the show below!