After waiting in line for half an hour (sold-out show), my friend and I finally got into the Blind Pig, just in time to catch the remnants of Cooper Anstett, one of the opening performers. Cooper Anstett was a duo and sounded like most opening acts that had one guy on drums and one guy on guitar–in other words, though they sounded nice, they were ultimately nothing special and easily forgotten. Not bad music to listen to while you wait for the joint to fill up.
Then there was the second opening act, The Elwins, who have been touring with Jukebox the Ghost on and off for the last several years. Their sound was distinctive–upbeat pop that likes to have fun–and is a clear complement to Jukebox the Ghost. The band also liked to have fun, and various members moved and danced all around the stage, They were in a surprisingly good mood considering, as they informed us, that their beloved van had broken down and they had to travel here in a uHaul. They were all even dressed in black to show their grief–and still they played with an infectious happiness. Towards the end of their set, they told us about how they and Jukebox the Ghost play this game called Brimball, during which they occasionally make crab hands and say “thanks for the Brimball.” After informing us of this pastime, they had the audience complete this motion and repeat those words and took a video to later surprise Jukebox the Ghost. Overall, their performance was engaging, dynamic, and upbeat, and properly warmed up the audience for the main act.
Speaking of audience, they were younger than the usual Blind Pig crowd. Typically, the Blind Pig draws heavily from college students and older Ann Arbor locals, but many members of this audience were high schoolers and I’d wager that more than a few got into the Blind Pig using fake IDs. Still, it wasn’t a bad crowd and had there been more room, there might have been dancing, but as it was, since we were crammed together, the dancing was limited to moves that only needed six inches of space.
In addition to this unusual audience, it’s always interesting to see pop and upbeat bands playing in the dark, cramped Blind Pig. Though the exterior does not take away from the music in anyway, it’s also not exactly the place one pictures a band like Jukebox the Ghost playing. It’s got major grunge vibes going on and one can easily see why Nirvana considered it one of their favorite places to play.
Finally, Jukebox the Ghost performed, opening with their bombastic song, “Somebody.” Like The Elwins, they were playful with the audience, and at one point, when their keyboardist and lead singer pulled out a granola bar during a song due to his ravenous appetite, they announced that history had been made bey e. It was a memorable moment. Another instance that stands out is when they played “Bohemian Rhapsody,” which got everyone in the audience channeling their inner Queen. Their set list was long–they have four albums to choose songs from–and they played a substantial amount of songs. By the end of it, though the band kept its energy, the audience was clearly exhausted–still enjoying the show, but tired from standing around for four hours. Thankfully, their encore was brief. They played another cover (chosen from their wheel of songs) which they had to remember how to play first and then closed with “The Spiritual,” a slower, more gospel-like song that ends with the line “let me go in peace.”