“Thank you very much. We are Young Jesus and this is our fucking record release show!” With that John Rossiter kicked off a blazing set by the young and quickly rising rock and roll band from right here in Chicago. Listening to their new album, Home, I got a pretty good idea of what the band was about, but seeing them perform live gave me a whole new perception of the band. Everything got turned up a notch, and I totally fell for the band hook, line and sinker.
It didn’t hurt that minutes before Young Jesus took the stage, Canasta finished up a great set of their own. I’ve known Canasta’s music a little bit over the past year, but never seen them live. One of my biggest regrets of 2011 was missing their Belle And Sebastian show at Darkroom in September. To make up for missing that cover show, the band played a ridiculously awesome cover of Blackstreet’s “No Diggity.” I know I shouldn’t have, but I got a recording of the song (sorry Lincoln Hall). It’s a little terrible visually, but the audio is great.
So how does a band follow up something as fun and wonderful as that? To put it simply, play balls out and force the audience to respond. Not that it took much to get this particular crowd going. I was up in the front, and it seemed like everyone around me knew all the band members and half of them knew all the words to the songs from Home, which doesn’t come out for another three weeks. As annoying as I found a couple of the audience members (I’m getting too old for all ages shows), it was great to see such support from friends and family for a local band. The love from the band to the fans was palpable, and it raised my spirits far greater than Christmastime ever could.
The set kicked off with the new album’s lead track, “Family And Friends.” As good as it is at kicking off a record, I think it’s an even better show starter. It has that dynamic quality of starting a little softer and getting progressively harder and louder. When the initial explosion hits as Rossiter belts out “Your family and friends will never die,” the crowd erupted equally. Guys were jumping up and down, girls dancing wildly. On stage Rossiter and Shawn Nystrand were shakin’ and groovin’ uncontrollably.
The highlight of the set, for me anyway, came a few songs in when the band played the song “Falling For You.” It’s probably the best song on the record as far as live potential. The crowd went even more wild when the band introduced this one. I wouldn’t be surprised if you hear this one on WXRT soon, as it’s the only truly radio-friendly song on the album. When the first verse came to a close with Rossiter singing, “I’m not saying I’m the man for you” I couldn’t even hear him over the crowd singing along (too bad because on the record his voice resembles Antony Hegarty and I wanted to see if that remained true live).
After having the opportunity to meet Young Jesus for a few minutes before the show, I was blown away by their transformation on stage. Some people have that ability to flip a switch and be “on.” All the members of the band seem to have that. Not that they were at all introverted during our short time together, but I didn’t expect them to rock so hard.
I’ll be reviewing Home a little closer to the release date, but for now let me say that I enjoy it immensely, and I hope for nothing but the best for the band. They’ll be touring this summer, and until then they’ll continue playing shows around Chicago. If you get a chance, try not to miss them.