AJJ “Music is a Gift to Give” // October 20th

I have the best luck sometimes. Exhibit A: the AJJ show on the 20th. I remember seeing that they were coming to Austin and immediately asking my friend Cameron if he wanted to go. He introduced me to them nearly a year earlier when they were still going by Andrew Jackson Jihad. For a month we talked about how awesome the show was going to be and how excited we were to see them.

Eventually, the day finally came and I was jumping off the walls. We drove down to Mohawk and immediately entered in a state of jubilation. After a beer, we watched the opening act Chris Farren who was undoubtedly one of the best one-man shows I have ever seen. He is best known for his work with Jeff Rosenstock in Antarctigo Vespucci but his solo work is a wonder to behold. Playing on top of premixed drums, his symphonic guitar playing and beautiful voice shine. He was also hilarious between songs, cracking jokes and telling everyone how much he loved us.

Following him was Diners, a band from Tucson. My friend described them as “desert rock” and it made sense why. The frontman Tyler Broderick had a soft yet eerie voice that grounded the light, and twinkly guitar and keyboard parts. I fell in love with their song “15 on a Skateboard” and proceeded to listen to it on repeat for the next few days. Their music has an addictive groove that quickly causes them to burrow into your mind. They were an incredible band to see, and one of the best discoveries of the evening.

Finally, after much anticipation, AJJ came on stage. My heart was beating so fast I could not even process what was happening. The clearest thing I remember was saying, “I love this song” before pretty much every song. An especially great moment was when they played “Junkie Church,” my favorite song off their newest album The Bible 2. There were several moments where the crowd would get into a frenzy, singing and pushing, loving the music. That is one of the best things about AJJ, the way their music is so incredibly upbeat and reassuring, even though they talk about how much life can suck. It is relatable on the rawest level.

The best part was when they closed out the show with Cameron’s favorite song, Big Bird. The minute it started, I had to turn to him and see what was happening. He was swaying back and forth, eyes fixed on the band, and he started to sing. Seeing him in that moment almost felt like I was intruding on something personal. I had to look away and let him take it in by himself. I sang along, too, knowing that this moment was one for the memory log. After the show, he thanked me and gave me a hug, and I knew I couldn’t have asked for a better gift to give him than that moment because music is the greatest gift of all.

Melody Swope // Third Coast Radio