SAN FRANCISCO – Jack Antonoff is a big star now, thanks to his contributions to the music of other stars – and rightly so. As a happy side effect, his band Bleachers now draws much larger crowds to much larger music venues across the country. And these new fans are discovering something Bay Area fans have known since Bleachers played a daytime slot on a side stage at Live 105’s BFD concert (RIP): Antonoff isn’t just a terrific songwriter and producer. . He is also an extremely talented conductor. Now on tour in support of the new album Take out the sadness of Saturday night, Antonoff brought his group of “rats” (his words) to Freemasonry on Saturday.
The new album is a kind of lament for the loss brought on by the pandemic and a literal call to regain joy. Unable to perform on stage, Antonoff struggled with “sadness” and did not always win. With the touring industry picking up last summer, he was eager to take off, full of pent-up energy. Bleachers is halfway through a 33-date tour, which has already seen some postponements after someone in the group tested positive for COVID-19 last month.
Yet that energy (which, quite frankly, Jack Antonoff has had as long as Bleachers has existed) was on full display in San Francisco. After opening with the plaintive piano ballad “91”, Bleachers took off and slowed down only once the rest of the night. The sextet, whose members alternate between two drums, two saxophones, two keyboards, a bass and a guitar, was always so coherent and never too much. The sound was always rich and the arrangements interesting. The opener, for example, included just Antonoff on an upright piano and the two saxophonists providing harmonies and bass. The three were the first to take the stage, followed by the rest of the group just before Bleachers launched in “Let’s Get Married”, from the 2017 album. Gone now.
In bursts of spotlight and saxophone explosions, the group comes alive. One difference from past tours is that Antonoff only received a guitar at the end of the song. Until then he was in full frontman mode, sprinting up the risers for both drum kits and gesticulating wildly. Dressed in jeans and a leather jacket over a white tank top, he looked like a cross between Bruce Springsteen and Jon Bon Jovi.
One of the drum lifts was decorated with knickknacks, framed photographs, and a few tomato stickers. Tomatoes are the fruit of the state of New Jersey. The rest of the Bleachers played the E Street Band, and it was easy to spot all the references Antonoff was making to the Jersey sound, even adding a short cover of Tom Waits’ “Jersey Girl”, changing the references from Jersey in The geographic features of the Bay Area, as suggested by fans take center stage.
Antonoff called the new album’s “Chinatown” a “song I wrote about New Jersey.” Hundreds of participants inside the Masonic filled with sardines sang this one. At this point in the shoot, about halfway through, it was very hot. According to our estimates, hundreds of people had completely removed their masks.
The sound of New Jersey shone on all songs led by saxophone or piano, of which there were many. The new song, “How Dare You Want More”, featured dueling brass parts. “Big Life”, also from the new album, had a similar vibe. Antonoff showed off his humorous side by chatting with the front rows throughout the night and having fun singing “Foreign Girls,” picking a mock fight along the way.
The performance was not without moments of introspection. Before an acoustic rendition of the new track ’45’, which he wrote during the lockdown, he explained how much it means to him that fans come to see him play, before and during a pandemic. There have been days in the past year and a half that he has struggled to just get out of bed, he said. The fans sang the harmony. He then dedicated a short performance of “Wild Heart” to someone in the room who had recently lost a loved one. He originally wrote the song for someone he lost, he said.
Bleachers were also sprinkled with older hits throughout the night: some early and a handful late in the set, like “Shadow”, “You’re Still a Mystery”, “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster” “.
“It was the song that started it all,” he said of that last song. “Everybody Lost Somebody”, meanwhile, demonstrated the need for two percussionists, as the two played complementary rhythms rather than relying on a drum machine.
Rather than taking the traditional encore break, Bleachers hiked through some of those fan favorites as well as “Don’t Take the Money” and the new album’s lead single, “Stop Making This Hurt,” to end the show in style. . Remark.
Chicagoland singer-songwriter Claude opened the show with a set of 30-minute personal chamber pop songs.
Accompanied by a guitarist and a drum machine, Claud started singing and playing bass before moving on to guitar and then keyboard. After the woozy “Overnight,” “In or In-Between,” which had a trance-like beat, and the grungy “Easy,” Claud hit a clear climax with the poppy but irritated, “That’s Mr. Bitch to You” . The artist’s sandy voice was lucky enough to run loose on this one.
The slow, dreamy “This Town” was billed as a song “about loving where you’re from but knowing there’s something else out there”.
Audiences were also treated to a new song called “Tommy”, a heartbreaking and nostalgic song about missed opportunities.