Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad


In case any of us had forgotten, Andrew Jackson Jihad (AJJ) reminds us that guitars can actually sweat. And bleed. Clean and raucous, friendly furious, the punk-folk band from Arizona turs up as an effective catalyst for teenagers’ rage, as most of the audience tonight is pretty young and passionate for this odd DIY orchestra.

Like their support band Hard Girls, the guys from AJJ seem so intrigued about the big dimensions of the disco ball that reigns The Deaf Institute’s upper floor. They also have nice words for Manchester, as they claim to be pleased to perform “in this beautiful city”.

After a couple of jokes while lead singer and guitarist Sean Bonette cleans his glasses -with the very same towel with he will clean the sweat on his face, arms and the whole body of his acoustic guitar, they start showing their raw power, with the pack of songs ‘The Michael Jordan Of Drunk Driving’ and ‘Gift of the Magi 2: Return of the Magi’.

The crowd enjoys a smooth mosh-pit, and sings every song as the backing vocals for Bonette’s sarcastic and slightly high-pitched voice. Don’t let the nice-guy-look and the sometimes even poppy tunes of this jihad mislead you: some of their lyrics speak true haters’ language and therefore they’re not suitable for the optimistic ones. For instance, ‘Hate, Rain on Me’ contains an apparently cheerful and catchy chorus, but have a look at its disturbing beginning: “I wish I had a bullet big enough to fucking kill the sun. / I’m sick of songs about the summer. / And I hate everyone”. Seems a suitable soundtrack for puberty.

Yet, there’s a good vibe in the thick air (by the way, what’s the point of so much fog on the stage?). There’s a weird, rowdy harmony. People are in a furiously good mood, willing to jump, to shout out, to let off steam and smash the daily frustrations on the floor. Plus, bassist Ben Gallaty reminds us “this is a fun show” (it’s exactly that) and introduces one of their smash hits, ‘People II: The Reckoning’, whose final words triggers audience’s thirst for healthy vent:

“In fucking fact Mrs. Robinson

The world won’t care whether you live or die

In fucking fact Mrs. Robinson

They probably hate to see your stupid face

So here’s to you Mrs. Robinson

You live in an unforgiving place”

The Japanese rockers’ that will perform in Manchester next day could give a definition of Sean Bonette with their band’s name: Bonette moves like an electric eel on the stage, with his frank and frantic singing, as well as his fast guitar playing.

Andrew Jackson Jihad

Andrew Jackson Jihad

The audience continues bursting out with ‘A Song Dedicated To The Memory Of Storming The Rabbit’, and calms down for a bit with the penetrating melody of the almost hypnotic ‘Coffin Dance’, followed by ‘I Wanna Rock Out of My Dreams’. At this point, Bonette leaves his guitar so as to climb the balcony of The Deaf Institute’s stage, like a spontaneous and irreverent Romeo. But his funny Tarzan-like scream while his hanging from the balcony takes away any sense of romanticism. When he lands onto the stage, he lets out a naughty giggle.

Bonette has recently been on his first solo European Tour 2015. “I’ll be playing whatever I feel like, really (…) Every night will be different, it’s going to be a lot of fun!”, he announced. He gives a sample of his solo performance playing a couple of acoustic songs. But he is not alone at all, as the audience can’t help singing along with him.

Songs like ‘Rejoice’ and ‘Fucc The Devil’ show that he has the rhythm and the nerve. That he can run wild just with his guitar.

The long-awaited ‘Temple Grandin’ appears like an agitated can of beer. The storm comes to an end with Bonette singing ‘Big Bird’ a cappella (“I’m afraid of the way that I live my life…”), which comes before a warm walkabout. At the end of the gig, even the glamorous disco ball is sweating…

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Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!