Wednesday night saw folk-punk legends AJJ descend on The Ed Castle and deliver a hell of a show. Hailing from Phoenix, Arizona, the band is known for deeply emotional lyricism and eccentric live performances, and this gig was no exception. Supporting them on tour are female-fronted band Antonia & The Lazy Susans and indie-punk artist Bec Stevens.
Up first were NSW alt-rockers Antonia & The Lazy Susans. The band’s set focused heavily on their recently released EP Closure – the band played “Bloodties”, a track about not fitting in with your family, and “Grandfather”, which the band dedicated to “anyone who has lost someone”. Lead vocalist Antonia Susan also used her time on stage to dedicate song “I don’t like you” to homophobes, and to encourage everyone to grab a free ‘Vote Yes’ sticker from their merch table. Antonia chatted to the crowd between songs, sharing how the band’s first time in Adelaide hadn’t gotten off to a great start; their van broke down 25 minutes from the venue, meaning one ‘Susan’ was missing from the performance to deal with the tow truck. Though their set certainly would have been stronger with the missing band member, Antonia & The Lazy Susans delivered a pretty emotive set along with a few quips and advocacy for marriage equality; overall, the first band of the night got my tick of approval.
Next up was indie artist Bec Stevens, playing in her hometown. Bec’s set definitely captivated the crowd, as she seamlessly transitioned from dreamy melodies to fast-paced guitar wizardry, with the help of her band. As she played tunes off debut EP More Scared Than Me, the crowd began to fill out, listening with interest while anticipation for AJJ built. After a hiccup where a band mate’s guitar string broke after a particularly frenetic performance, Bec ended her set by dedicating her final song to dogs (something the crowd seemed to enjoy) while thanking AJJ for bringing her on tour.
Without further ado, AJJ took to the stage, emanating genuine excitement as they proclaimed how great it was to be back in Adelaide. The set kicked off with songs like Cody’s Theme and White Worms from recent album The Bible 2, with the crowd responding with one of the most frenzied mosh pits I’ve ever seen. AJJ delivered exactly what their fans wanted, playing older songs as well as new. Older tracks on the set list included Black Dog and Hate Song For Brains from 2012 album Rompilation. Lyrically, the songs delve into some potentially heavy themes (social anxiety, religion) - however, this was balanced out by a consistently fervent performance and banter a-plenty provided by frontman Sean Bonnette. Between songs, Bonnette chatted in the hilarious and slightly erratic way that encapsulates why AJJ are so loved by fans. It was also exceedingly obvious that the band are genuinely grateful to their fans for allowing them to do what they love – every few songs, Bonnette would profusely thank the crowd for coming out. For their part, AJJ fans had their dedication on show, screaming every lyric back at the band while moshing way too excitedly for what the small venue allowed. By the end of the night, energy was at an all-time high. This reached new levels as Bonnette closed the show by delving into the crowd, singing his heart out surrounded by his fans. I know I’m not alone in saying I left the gig feeling elated from a gig full of intensity and high-energy, courtesy of AJJ.
Header image via Bandcamp.