SAN FRANCISCO – AJR came out swinging on Saturday night as they transformed the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium into its own “Neotheater,” filled with brotherly love and unparalleled dance moves.
Shortly after, the Mets appeared just as the first bass was dropping on the opening song. The brothers’ energy was palpable from the start. Jack Met’s zealous dancing as he belted the vocals to “Next Up Forever” and “Birthday Party” matched the recorded versions flawlessly. Longtime fans of AJR were quickly satisfied as 2017 hit “Sober Up” came just three songs into the set.
With two albums to its name, AJR was now in the position of having to pick and choose from a larger catalog. The brothers went with the hits, deeper cuts from 2017 debut The Click, as well as some of their latest material.
Perhaps one of the most impressive moments of the whole set was a trumpet solo by JJ Kirkpatrick, who played a solo medley of 10 songs that AJR has written or collaborated on. A moving walkway directly in front of the screens gave the impression that Kirkpatrick was walking through clouds, as the name of each new song he played was shown on the screens. Later in the show, Jack Met used the screen to begin the beat to the band’s chart-topper “Come Hang Out,” with two prerecorded versions of himself, clapping in unison.
Over more than an hour AJR covered 16 songs (not including Kirkpatrick’s medley); the vast majority of which coming from the new album, like “Netflix Trip” and “Don’t Throw Out My Legos.”
Opening act Tessa Violet set the scene for the evening as she and her band came out with an infectious energy. Violet had a great stage presence that demanded attention and audience engagement with call and response clapping, jumping and waving. The band’s matching jumpsuits provided visual cohesion that paired well with its choreography.
In the middle of the set, Violet took a break to discuss her battle with mental illness while encouraging concertgoers to be open with their own friends and family.
“You are the first and last you there will ever be,” she said.
Follow writer Piper Westrom at Twitter.com/plwestrom.