If I was asked to name my favorite album of 2017, I’d say Jeff Rosenstocks “Worry” album from 2016. The album is that good and deserves to be album of the year for the next 5 years. When I found out Jeff Rosenstock would be coming back to the Twin Cities for their own headlining show at The Garage, I was ecstatic. The last time they were in town was at the Cabooze earlier this year with an opening slot for The Menzingers. Their set that night was fast, loud and to the point. Their headlining show at The Garage was all of that and then some. Along for the show is Jeff’s old bandmate from Bomb the Music Industry, Laura Stevenson and local bands Heart to Gold and Remo Drive.
When I pulled up to The Garage around 5:30, there was already a long line of kids eagerly waiting to get into the show. They were braver than I was since it was at least 90 degrees out there with wicked Minnesota humidity. There was no way I could have waited outside for that long. But these kids were persistent to get inside to secure their spot up front. Once doors opened around 6, we all filtered in to some air conditioning relief. The AC didn’t last long once the opening band Heart to Gold started.
Heart to Gold are a modern pop-punk trio out of Minneapolis. They are a little grittier than your average pop-punk band and that was very much welcomed. The moment singer/guitarist Grant Whiteoak hit the first note of his guitar, the entire Garage came unglued. If I thought the heat outside was hot, these guys just cranked the heat by at least 20 degrees. The mosh pit started during the first song and would continue for the rest of the set. Before I knew it, we were five songs into a blistering hot set. There were people flying everywhere. Everyone was singing along and if this was the shape of things to come from the night, we were all in for a great treat. “Hi Mom” Grant says as he kicked into the final song and finished one of the strongest opening sets I have seen in a while.
Next up is Bloomington natives, Remo Drive. Their current album “Greatest Hits” released in March, is still in heavy rotation in my ITunes list. Their high energy and catchy hooks with the call back to emo drew us all in. If I thought Heart to Gold brought the heat, Remo Drive cranked up the already sweltering temperature by another 10 degrees. The crowd was screaming along to all the songs word for word. The mosh pit grew bigger and more aggressive but friendly. At one point during the set, singer/guitars Eric Paulson told the crowd that it was drummer Sam Mathys birthday and lead the crowd to a huge HAPPY BIRTHDAY to Sam. The set flew by and before I even knew it, Eric says this is our last song and thanks the crowd for coming out.
Just when everyone in the Garage was about to have a heat stroke, we get a well needed chilled out set from the amazing Laura Stevenson. Laura was a part of Bomb the Music Industry with Jeff while embarking on her own musical path. Her current line-up in her band is drummer Kevin Higuchi and John DeDomenici on bass. Her set came at the perfect time to talk us off the cliff and to take a break and to fall in love with everything around us. Moshing stopped, crowd surfing stopped and all eyes and ears are on Laura. Her songs were sad, happy, angry and hopeful while all sounding a tad bit melancholy with a dash of optimism hidden in the mix. “I’m really stoked to play The Garage! This place is so cool” Laura says as she begins her set. At one point during the set, John and Kevin left the stage so Laura could perform a couple of songs solo. This was amazing. Not only is her voice heavenly, but her guitar playing is top shelf too! I found myself drifting into her musical trance instead doing my job. I had to fight myself to not go fully under the Stevenson spell. I didn’t make it that far. I was hooked as well as the entire sold out Garage. We were all angry about past relationships, afraid of future happenings and full of self-deprecating thoughts. We were all there feeling what Laura was giving us. “I’m fucking hideous and spiteful”, Laura sings in Jellyfish for her last song of the night.
After the Stevenson trance, the energy builds back up. The crowd starts to mesh together again and the temperature starts to rise another 10 degrees. There is barely any wiggle room to move around. We are sardines in here. Hot sweaty smelly sardines.
“Someone’s gonna bleed and dribble trails in the snow” Jeff sings to the opening song “We Begged 2 Explode”. This opening made it clear that the entire night will be a sing-along with Jeff night as the entire crowd was singing along word for word. With the opening guitar chords strumming for the next song “Pash Rash”, Jeff gives a huge shout out to Heart to Gold and Remo Drive before diving into the song that goes zero to sixty in twenty seconds. John DeDomenici who is also the bass player for Jeff Rosenstock mentions the last time they were in town and gives a huge shout out to all the bands that played on that bill including local band Tiny Moving Parts which got a huge reaction from the crowd. At this point, the temperature inside the Garage rose about 10 more degrees. Everyone was dripping wet and we were just four songs into the set. Jeff is a very animated front man and he was feeling the heat but it didn’t affect his performance in the least. The band played a new song “Dramamine”, which was release in April and yet was another sing along with the crowd. Jeff’s shows are like a counter weight where his lyrics are heavy, meaningful and somewhat despondent but his stage presence and onstage banter are high energy and full of fun and tongue in cheek jokes. It’s a perfect balance. Someone in the crowd asks Jeff to tell a joke and Jeff responds with “What is brown and sticky”? And all together the crowd yells out “A STICK”! Jeff just looks back at the crowd and says “Ok”, which gets a huge laugh from the crowd. Then one by one, each band member tells a somewhat horrible joke that made no sense at all but made for a perfect segue into one of Jeff’s well know songs “Nausea”. The whole night full of sing-a-longs came fully evident with one of the loudest sing-along yet. The crowds voice overpowered Jeff’s amplified voice to one of the best rendition of the song I’ve heard. “I get so tired of describing my future, I started avoiding the people I love”, screamed by Jeff and the entire crowd at the Garage. We were all feeling the emotion of sadness sprinkled with happiness in the song which Jeff does so masterfully. The band goes into 5 straight songs for the album “Worry” and do it as one long seamless song before they go into the song “You, In Weird Cities” which ends with the crowd singing the “Whoa-oh-oh-oh-oh” along to Jeff bringing out a saxophone and belting out a saxophone solo and the kids loved it! They ended the set for a brief break to dry off before coming back out for the encore. For the encore, Jeff asks the crowd what they would want to hear. The choices were the songs “Twinkle” or “Darkness Records”. He says to “Scream for the one you want”. The result was a unanimous decision of “Twinkle” from the 2012 album “I Look Like Shit”. The band thanks the crowd and goes into an extended version with Jeff playing with crowd and letting them strum his guitar while crowd surfer after crowd surfer take turns riding the wave of people trying to muscle in to the front of the stage. The band finishes off a blistering hot set and says thank you to the sweaty sold out Garage and takes an exit. After the show, Jeff made sure to meet with his fans to sign autographs and take pictures and talk about whatever was on their mind.
Going to a summer show at the Garage is obviously going to be a steamy experience. Going to a Jeff Rosenstock show in the summer at the sold-out Garage was a steamy experience on steroids. This was the summer show to be at. The heat didn’t stop the crowd from the pure excitement and energy from being at a punk rock show. And Jeff didn’t let the heat stop him from giving us that excitement.
Jeff Rosenstock set list: We begged 2 Explode \ Pash Pash \ Rainbow \ Festival Song \ To be a Ghost \ Wave Goodnight to Me \ Hey Allison! \ Dramamine \ I Did Something Weird Last Night
\ Blast Damage Days \ Nausea \ HELLLLHOOOOLE \ June 21st \ The Fuzz \ …While You’re alive \ Perfect Sound Whatever \ You, In Weird Cities \ Twinkle