Every musician in every interview this year has talked about how badly they want to get back out there on the road and in front of fans, but there are few that mean it as much, and for whom it means as much, as Jeff Rosenstock, who played a joyous sold-out show at the Beachland Ballroom last night.
From the first words and guitar notes on "Ohio Tpke" there was little pause, except for a broken guitar, in an evening that was an exuberant and full-throttle tour of Rosenstock's late-career solo work that's simply gotten better with every new release.
The angst; the funny-as-hell turns of phrase and framings; the despondency of getting older and feeling more pessimistic by the year; the sweat, yes, the sweat; the communal sing-alongs; the timely treatises on current events; the battles against the worst of the world and the celebrations of the tiny, best parts of it; the ska (!) version of "No Time" — it was all there led by the maestro the tank top and jean shorts.
Rosenstock's latest trips through town had been at Mahall's, as an opener for The Menzingers at the House of Blues, on a solo stop at the Grog Shop, and with a side ska project.
So a sold-out Beachland felt like a pretty damn good reception for the beloved punk who has remained irreverent, experimental, authentic, prolific and brilliant over a series of solo albums that have brought Rosenstock into the mainstream, first with the success of POST- in 2018 and recently with the anthemic, hooky resonance of NO DREAM. (Including a performance of "Scram!" on Seth Meyers.)
There's not much more to feel good about in 2021 than there was in 2020, and as Rosenstock wrestles with on the latest album, a lot of the ways we try to distract ourselves and inject some good into our lives end up being empty, defeating, divisive, and pretty bad. Whether it's social media or consumerism, the short-term routes out of despair end up at the same point.
So what is good? Singing along at obnoxious levels and dancing around at a Rosenstock show and being with your people.
In an interview earlier this year,
Rosenstock talked about anxiety and social media and the pandemic and barriers and what concerts mean in relation to all that and said, "I think about house shows and how much I miss that feeling of being in a space with a bunch of people who you wouldn’t normally run into but share this one common goal with them, which is, I guess, to want to rock. I don’t know—that’s kind of a dumb way to say that. But I think that connection is really important."
It surely was last night.
NO TIME TO SKANK
Wave Goodnight to Me
The Beauty of Breathing
Leave It In The Sun
DEPT OF FINANCE
Polar Bear or Africa
N O D R E A M
You, in Weird Cities
We Begged 2 Explode