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Show Review: Grandson’s I Love You, I’m Trying Tour marches through Phoenix

“The pressures of conformity are bearing down upon us!”

K.Flay’s early sermon on staying true to yourself struck a strong chord with a packed house at The Van Buren in Phoenix on Thursday night. The last night of a tour (at least for the openers on this run) can be a bittersweet moment, but K.Flay and Grandson turned the Phoenix date of the I Love You, I’m Trying Tour into a night of lighthearted pranks and genuine emotion. As Jordan Benjamin said onstage, Grandson is a political project and the kids are ready to join the revolution spurred by his music and message.

Songwriter Jack Kays opened the show, bringing his brand of emotive, guitar-driven music to The Van Buren’s stage. With his raw, honest lyrics and powerful vocals, Kays took his early audience on a journey through his psyche and provided the perfect complementary opening for the rest of the show.

K.Flay and Grandson have been close friends for years and this tour felt like the culmination of their mutual respect and love and their creative partnership. She took the stage with her usual fervor, launching right into “The President Has a Sex Tape” (in case you were wondering how the rest of the tour stands on political issues, look no further than their straight-shooting songs). 

Kristine Flaherty was a whirling tornado of movement and energy, stomping up and down the stage, climbing on platforms and getting the crowd just as riled up. A self-professed “Weirdo”, Flaherty leans into her eccentricities- all the while delivering stellar vocals on “Shy”, “Punisher” and “Raw Raw”. The closer was- of course- “High Enough” and The Van Buren was certainly soaring after such a wild set.

Seated on a park bench and illuminated by street lights, Grandson emerged from under his hood and into a night of spreading his good word. The floor shook as everyone bounced to “Drones” and “Something to Hide” and hands reached for the ceiling on a fun remix to “Bury Me Face Down”. Benjamin did not hold back between songs, expressing his staunch opinions about the government, their actions and what we can all do to make a difference. It’s certainly not rainbows and sunshine- Grandson is a project based in righteous anger and authoritative self-expression- all sentiments agreed upon by every X-wearing Grandkid in the room.

The 25-track setlist bounced between Benjamin’s early work and songs from his latest album and every song elicited the same all-in response from his audience. “Stigmata” had just as many heads banging as “When the Bomb Goes” and we even had a chance to dance when the impossibly jaunty “Dirty” kicked in.

As was tradition on this tour, K.Flay re-emerged for a dual performance of “Zen” and “Peaches” but this time, she bounded onstage in a perfect replica of Benjamin’s tour outfit (Benjamin, for his part, was laughing too hard to sing and the joy permeated the room).

He leapt into the audience for a cellphone-lit performance of “Heather”, dedicated to a fan lost to suicide before closing the night with “We Did It!!!” and the song that changed everything, “Blood//Water”.

Grandson’s political movement marches on and is creating genuine, powerful connections between fans and the artist himself. Kids of all ages painted X’s across their faces, wore shirts from previous tours and gave Grandson their undivided attention all night. He’s ready to bring the message to a global audience once again and we’ll be waiting for the next time the march stops in Arizona.

Check out all the photos from the show!
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel  

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