First taking the stage was Portland’s own Nathan Tucker acting solo representing his group Cool American. The crowd continued to fizzle in as he began his performance of tracks ranging from their newest released album, ‘You Can Win A Few’, and going back to their debut album synapses / whatever. While he told his audience that he was nervous, his emotional singing and guitar playing bled into the microphone and over everyone present.
Another Portland band, ‘Foot Ox’, was next to entertain. Teague Cullen, the groups only current member, shyly took his place for the evening on a wooden bar stool and gave a vehement yet somewhat playful rendition of songs old and new, taking his audience back to tracks from ‘It’s Like Our Little Machine’, such as ‘Carabell’ and an intimate ‘Lucky Strike’. We haven’t seen much from Cullen or his musical project in the past few years, so a night of live music was certainly a treat for all to see. In fact, this was Foot Ox’s first show in over a year, according to Cullen.
From anxiety to poverty, Sean Bonnette’s style as a singer-songwriter has evolved immensely since his band AJJ (formerly Andrew Jackson Jihad) first released ‘Candy Cigarettes and Cap Guns’ in 2006. Similar to the previous act, Bonnette gave fans songs from a wide array of his albums, ranging from a now nine year old Rejoice to tracks from his most recent album, ‘The Bible 2’, including ‘Junkie Church’, ‘My Brain is a Human Body,’ and more. While AJJ’s style nowadays is much electric than it used to be, a solo Bonnette took listeners back to an earlier time with a purely acoustic instrumentation: a Yamaha guitar and a passionate voice.
Providing the perfect blend of nostalgia and discovery of new music, Bonnette’s performance was certainly an intimate one. Conversations with audience members about YouTube videos, choreographed audience clapping, and a request sheet rather than a set list all worked together to bring Sean and the crowd into a night of musical and emotional intimacy.
All in all, while an AJJ show is sure to be invigorating, a solo Sean Bonnette, Foot Ox, and Cool American gave fans both freshmen and senior a close and personal experience.
Check out, ‘Getting Naked, Playing With Guns’ here: