The end of the beginning is here and it’s time for the resistance to take over. Grandson’s headlining tour stormed into Milwaukee for the latest stop on his most ambitious endeavor yet.
Labelmates and friends nothing,nowhere opened the night, playing their anthemic emo jams to a receptive audience. Singer/rapper Joe Mulherin kept his eyes downcast, but his vocals and energy reached the ceiling. He was joined by his live guitarist and drummer, often hopping behind the keys and guitar as well. Mulherin sang passionately through older tracks like “Clarity in Kerosene” and songs from his latest joint venture with Blink-182 drummer Travis Barker.
The band filled The Rave with fog and blinding colored lights, the emotions in the music touching every fan in the room. The raw passion of “Letdown” was juxtaposed with Mulherin’s tongue-in-cheek kiss-off to the haters on “Hammer” before closing with “Nevermore”.
Dual video screens went up on The Rave’s small stage, the first sign of Jordan Benjamin’s ascendance to the next level. He took the stage with a fury, opening a raucous set with “Oh No!!!” – arguably one of his rawest tracks to date. The screens behind Grandson and his band flashed with images of war, Trump-era headlines and sobering statistics regarding hot-button issues like gun violence and opioid overdose deaths.
The theme of the night was empowerment and effecting change on any scale, from local neighborhoods to global communities. The fans knew the drill and responded with a force to match Grandson’s whirlwind energy, as they spent it all to “Stigmata” and “Bury Me Face Down”.
In his EP trilogy (the last of which was released mere hours after the Milwaukee show), Grandson explores his own struggles, interspersed with the anger coming from the political climate in the United States. The shows bring these frustrations to the forefront and allow both the band and the audience to connect on topics that have divided the nation. This open dialogue has built an astoundingly tight-knit community in a short amount of time and watching Grandson and co. hash it out onstage is moving and cathartic.
Grandson also played the entirety of his latest EP, A Modern Tragedy, Vol. 3, surprising the crowd with the slow and hauntingly beautiful “Destroy Me”. As always, outrage anthem “Thoughts and Prayers” riled the room, along with “6:00” and “Stick Up”. Between songs, Grandson spoke ardently about the need to vote, to make our collective voices heard and to effect enough change to move the entire world in a positive direction.
He jumped into the outstretched arms of his audience for the blistering song that started it all, “Blood//Water”, to end a night of kinship, righteous rage and the power of rock and roll.
Check out more photos from the show!
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel