‘Grandson’ concert review
By Sonam Kaloti, Arts Editor
Grandson (Jordan Edward Benjamin) is a Canadian-American musician who has appeared on multiple Billboard charts in both Canada and America. He is signed to Fueled by Ramen and his breakout single is titled “Blood // Water.” Most of his songs are powerful, opinionated, and very political. The genre of his music is best described as a fusion of alternative rock and electronic. He played at VENUE nightclub on September 4.
I was hoping to see Grandson live when he was set to open for Nothing But Thieves in October 2018, but his set fell through. He opened the show with “Oh No!!!”, the second single released after “Rock Bottom,” both singles from new EP a modern tragedy vol. 3 set to release on September 13.
For a nightclub venue, the crowd was extremely energetic. Near the beginning of the show Grandson said, “If you guys don’t get a mosh pit going soon, I’ll have to start one myself.” From then on, the mosh pit was very aggressive, positioned right in the front-middle of the crowd. Being in the second row at the front (and a relatively small person) I was being knocked around quite a bit (as were my fellow small people). Lo and behold, a very tall older woman saved the day, standing behind our section of petite headbangers with her arms spread wide to take the hit damage. She did rounds hugging the protected and I will think of her every day of my life.
Grandson’s lyrics have an enticing edge to them. For example, the “Blood // Water” bridge: “When the last tree’s fallen, the animal can’t hide. Money won’t solve it—what’s your alibi?” Additionally, “My president’s a felon and I can’t cope,” in “Oh No!!!” These politically charged anthems were destined to be a crowd favourite.
About midway through the set, Grandson hushed the crowd and the pit with a soft hand gesture, and beautifully worked the room into silence. He proceeded to play “Destroy Me,” an emotional ballad with an acoustic guitar, comparing a lover to the likes of many addictive drugs, singing “I need a fix, can we get much higher? I need a sweet escape—you are my heroin.” I take it that the relationship is unhealthy, yet the speaker doesn’t want to leave (despite knowing they should), apparent by the legato chorus, “You are temptation, all I desire. Destroy me, destroy me, I don’t wanna come down.”
Grandson notified the sold-out show that he would be playing many unreleased songs from his new EP. This was the case, because by the end of the show he hadn’t played any of the older singles I was most looking forward to, being: “Bills,” “Best Friends,” “Kiss Bang,” “War,” and “Bury Me Face Down.” His setlist also meant the crowd couldn’t sing along with a lot of the music because nobody had heard it yet. The excitement to hear the songs from his new EP live would have been much greater had the show been after the EP’s release, and I believe fans would have left the show more satisfied had they heard more of his oldest singles (the oldest only being from 2016).
During the set, Grandson took some time out to talk intimately with everyone at the show. He acknowledged that, although some people likely had differing opinions than himself, that for the most part everyone in the room believed in the same ideas. He said, “I want you to remember before we go any further: if you’re ever feeling when you’re reading the news that you don’t have a voice—you don’t have a community that seems to reflect what you believe, I want you to look around the room and I want you to know that every single person here has your motherfucking back.”
The concert was thrilling and energetic, and Grandson’s music—filled with heavy concepts and idealism—ignited the room. A spark was lit in everyone that burns with the knowledge that we are all capable of making a change and speaking up for what we believe in, and that no matter what, there will always be people on our side.