Jeff Rosenstock & Remember Sports @ Bowery Ballroom (night 3 review)
Jeff Rosenstock played four sold-out, BrooklynVegan-presented shows at Bowery Ballroom last week, which were recorded for an upcoming live album. The openers were all close friends and/or collaborators: The Sidekicks on night one, Chris Farren on night two, Remember Sports on night three, and Laura Stevenson on night four. We recently posted a review of night four, and here's a review of night three.
Remember Sports had just wrapped up a tour with Jeff, and like him, they've got roots in DIY. They formed while at Ohio's Kenyon College, where they recorded their first two albums under the name Sports, and then renamed themselves Remember Sports (to avoid confusion with other bands), moved to Philly, and released the fantastic album Slow Buzz last year. They're an extremely tight live band, and what they may lack in the rock and roll presence that Jeff has, they make up for in sheer togetherness. Singer Carmen Perry brings a rawness to their live show that isn’t inferior to the record, but changes the vibe up nicely. For a young band, Remember Sports knew how to make seamless song transitions look easier than plenty of longer-running bands I’ve seen attempt it.
While they have a handful of faster, punk style songs, Remember Sports put on a fairly low key set on Friday. Older tracks like opener “Tiny Planets” and “Saturday” brought an energy, but the choices from Slow Buzz were a bit surprising. The faster “Up From Below” was not played and neither was lead single “Temporary Tattoo.” Perhaps it was just a case of this being the part of the tour cycle where the band is trying out the deeper cuts on the record, which is not to say the slower selections from Slow Buzz were bad. “No Coming Back” and “Dripping” are among the best tracks on the record and were made to see live.
The highlight of their set, an impressive 13 songs in 40 minutes, was the inclusion of a brand new song they had debuted less than a month ago in Florida (which, when mentioned, received applause, but less than whenever they said “Philly” -- they seemed to have a lot of hometown [and Eagles] fans at this show). The new cut was uptempo and included a rad bass solo from bassist Catherine Dwyer that led into what is sure to be an extremely catchy outro. It alone provided sufficient hype for the album coming later this year.
Jeff Rosenstock and his band were the complete opposite type of great show. Loud and angry about politics and everything else that’s shitty in the world, Jeff is an icon for modern leftist punks. He has arisen to messiah status in the scene and has a level of outsider respect you might not have thought possible ten years ago. If you’ve never seen Jeff Rosenstock before, it feels like putting his energy into words does the show a disservice. There aren’t many slow songs in a typical Jeff Rosenstock set, so he doesn’t have much time to rest. He doesn’t need it anyway. The man has seemingly infinite energy and didn’t miss a chance to get his hair tousled by a fan, or to make sure a stage diver was safe.
It’s that priority to safety and comfortability at his shows that defines Jeff’s generation of the scene. After he rocked opener “USA,” from last year’s POST-, Jeff took a second to address the issue of groping at his shows, calling for everyone to help each other out.
“If you are in trouble, just tap the person in front of you on the shoulder. And they will tap the person in front of them until we get you help,” Jeff insisted. He wants everyone to have a good time, and he means it in the way where nobody should have a traumatic experience on a night like this. It just doesn’t need to happen anymore.
The band continued with a mix of old and new, playing for over 90 minutes including the encore. There were surprise deeper cuts from Rosenstock’s first two albums, “Bonus Oceans” from I Look Like Shit and “Polar Bear or Africa” from We Cool?. And of course Jeff took 45 of the fastest seconds in the show to play the theme he wrote for Cartoon Network's Craig of the Creek. Mostly, the set was a majority of the songs from his most recent records POST- and WORRY., with the first part of the set ending on the operatic final run of songs from WORRY. followed by the anthemic political “Let Them Win.” It’s hard to see Rosenstock ever writing a more fitting closer in his career -- that’s how perfectly the song fits the bill.
Jeff Rosenstock puts on consistently great shows; he has for years and has become beloved for it. And it wouldn't be possible without his killer band. With Hard Girls guitarist Mike Huguenor, Bruce Lee Band drummer Kevin Higuchi, and Jeff's former Bomb the Music Industry! bandmate John DeDomenici on bass, the band is a collective of ska and punk veterans who are a big part of the reason Jeff can pull off a feat as impressive as putting on four shows in four days and selling them all out. The live album can’t come quick enough.