Published Jul 20, 2014This is the third time Arizona folk-punk group Andrew Jackson Jihad have hit the Canadian prairies since 2011, and the guys were warmly welcomed back in Winnipeg at the Pyramid Cabaret on Saturday night. Even the band admitted there were more people than they expected, before kicking the set off with "Temple Grandin," the first track from Christmas Island, which was released in May via SideOneDummy.
One of the highlights was hearing the crowd favourite "American Tune," a song that rather bluntly calls out straight white male privilege and had people shouting along. While some bands struggle to beef up acoustic tunes, Andrew Jackson Jihad isn't one of them and this is one song that probably turned out even better than the original acoustic version. The band even added in the line "Beats the fuck out of affirmative action" to switch things up, and perhaps prove that seeing Andrew Jackson Jihad live isn't the same as listening to them in your room. After vocalist/guitarist Sean Bonnette joked that Canadians love to be critical of America and said this song was for us, though the banter was mostly kept to the minimum throughout the set.
Another highlight was hearing the group cover Neil Young's "Roll Another Number (For the Road)," which was a nice change from the Weakerthans cover acoustic performers often hammer out when playing shows here. Young's Winnipeg connection might not be as strong as John K. Samson's, but the iconic singer/songwriter did spend some time growing up here and played in bands while attending classes at Kelvin High School.
Ultimately full-band was the focus, but as the set wore on drummer Deacon Batchelor, guitarist/keyboardist Preston Bryant and cellist Mark Glick left the stage so original founding members Bonnette and bassist Ben Gallaty could do their own thing again acoustically. Eventually it was just Bonnette strumming his guitar and singing before he was re-joined by all his band mates for the remainder of the set, which included tunes such as "Linda Ronstadt" and "White Face, Black Eyes."