Jeff Rosenstock – Tickets – College Street Music Hall – New Haven, CT – September 9th, 2023
Sidney Gish, Gladie
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This event is General Admission Standing Room only on the floor.
Jeff Rosenstock makes increasingly chaotic albums for an increasingly chaotic world. With each passing year, it feels like the temperature of the universe boils five degrees hotter, and with each new album, Rosenstock’s music grows more unwieldy and lawless. Louder, faster, more feral.
Which brings us to 2023—a planet on fire, a mere 90 seconds to midnight on the doomsday clock, and the release of Rosenstock’s appropriately titled, anarchic record, HELLMODE.
“To me, the album feels like the chaos of being alive right now,” Rosenstock says of HELLMODE. “We’re experiencing all these things at the same time that trigger our senses, and emotions that make us feel terrible. We’re just feeling way too much all at once!” But for all its textured turmoil, there are also surprising glimpses of clarity and grace to be found in HELLMODE, when Rosenstock deliberately slows things down in places that are prettier and more delicate, rare moments of shelter in the storm. Which only makes it more rewarding when these moments unexpectedly unravel and spiral back into extreme, manic chaos, like abruptly being flung into a Nintendo game on level 99.
HELLMODE marks the fifth studio album the prolific Rosenstock has released in the last ten years under his own name, following the dissolution of his beloved cult projects Bomb the Music Industry! and The Arrogant Sons of Bitches. Also tucked into his rapidly expanding catalog is a live record, a ska reimagining of his 2020 album NO DREAM, and various dumps of stray songs and loose singles. And somewhere on the side, he has found time to score the Emmy-nominated animated series Craig of the Creek.
Rosenstock’s rising profile and critical acclaim over the last decade have been something of an anomaly. He’s a proud torchbearer of the punk sonics, aesthetics, and ethos of his youth, leaning into pop punk and ska sensibilities that were deemed Decidedly Uncool by the gatekeepers of the time. (On any given day at a big outdoor music festival, he is likely the only musician who will bust out a saxophone solo.) But when Rosenstock celebrates these styles, he somehow ends up getting praise from tastemakers and landing on prominent year-end lists. Maybe it’s because his appreciation doesn’t feel like cheap nostalgia or surface-level cosplay. Everything he does is just so damned sincere.
That success is something Rosenstock has been conflicted about, and fuels some of the anxiety that runs through HELLMODE. “It’s weird feeling success at the worst possible time, while the world falls apart,” he says. “These things I’ve been unintentionally working towards for the last two decades have come to fruition now, when everything is on fire.”
To record HELLMODE in the summer of 2022, Rosenstock once again enlisted his longtime studio collaborator, Jack Shirley, the Grammy-nominated master of heaviness who has recorded all of Rosenstock’s studio albums. But this time, they took a slightly more ambitious approach, booking time at the legendary EastWest Studios in Hollywood. They recorded to tape in Studio 2, the same hallowed ground where System of a Down recorded Toxicity, and where Whitney Houston laid down vocal tracks for The Bodyguard soundtrack. The newfound studio resources produced the biggest and most expansive Jeff Rosenstock record to date.
“I looked at it like: Well, we’re never gonna make a major label debut record. But I really like the sound of a lot of those records from the 90s—the Rob Cavallo stuff, the Jerry Finn stuff,” Rosenstock says. “So what would we do if we were in the studio trying to make that kind of record? It’s funny, I feel like in 2023, you can write an unabashedly poppy punk song and it’s probably not gonna be on the radio anyway, so it doesn’t feel like a sellout move. We felt free to make something that just kicks as much ass as possible.”
Sidney Gish is a songwriter and producer based in Boston, MA. Her first album, Ed Buys Houses, was self-released on Bandcamp in 2016. Her second album, No Dogs Allowed, was released on New Year's Eve in 2017, receiving a 7.7 rating on Pitchfork and winning Album of the Year at the 2018 Boston Music Awards. Following the moderate internet success of No Dogs Allowed, Gish briefly toured with singer-songwriter Mitski in 2018. In March 2019, she performed at South by Southwest and was featured on NPR Music's Austin 100. She was listed as one of Stereogum's Best New Artists of 2018.
Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out, the second full-length record from Philadelphia band Gladie, opens with a contemplative instrumental called “Purple Year.” Along with acoustic strumming and a late-night wall of cricket-chirps, cello and gentle horn runs set a dewy, moonlit stage before second track and single “Born Yesterday” bursts alive with drums, bass, and bright guitar chord crunch. It’s like a cold, heart-jolting morning plunge as Augusta Koch’s familiar Philly tenor starts in: “It takes me more time, I’m a little unsteady/I was born yesterday, I forgot I could be somebody.”Koch realized while writing these songs that she had become an entirely different person: a mental, spiritual, and physical renaissance had unfolded over several years that, together, constituted an entirely new reality. Everything had changed, from relationships with friends to relationships with alcohol. Being on the other side of these tectonic shifts offered the sort of clarity that you can only get by going through the darkness: You Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out. It’s optimistic, but it’s scary, too—life changes always are. Who will you be at the end of them? “Born Yesterday,” which Koch wrote about not drinking alcohol anymore, offers a critical revelation that guides the record, and which was hard-earned while experiencing the overwhelming emotional acuity that developed while living without alcohol: “The way I feel, I could fill the ocean/When the wave comes crashing in, it said I’m not a fixed thing/I’m changeable.”
“I like the idea that the record’s title can be both a positive and a negative,” says Koch. “It could seem sad, but it can also be hopeful in the sense that when you’re going through something really rough. It will get better, you will change, you will survive it, and you will be able to see it from a different perspective that you never thought you could.”Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out cycles through these transitions sonically and thematically. “Hit The Ground” is a folksy, desert-drive shuffle, while “Nothing,” opening with feedback screech, is a punk-rock rollercoaster ride that rejects the American cultural drive to want more and more and more until we die: “What would it feel like to want nothing?” cries Koch.“Soda” tells a shoegazey, indie-psych love story that imagines creating our own normal when we’re around the people that make us feel seen, rejecting societal pressure to hate ourselves and feel like we’re not enough: “I like the way we live in tandem and the world we wish to see/Sweet and cheap, we thrive on less,” Koch sings on the second verse. The gentle alt-rock waltz of “Smoking” reflects on a deeply missed habit, and pensive, spacey, synth-and-cello-centric closer “Something Fragile” ends the record with as many questions as it started: “Am I something fragile or something strong?” Koch wonders, still finding her footing in strange new realities.
Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out marks the first Gladie production with a set band lineup, a feature which was previously hampered by the pandemic. As a result, the LP leans into Gladie’s live energy and dynamics, moving away from the home-recorded keys and drum machines of their 2020 debut Safe Sins.Koch recorded Don’t Know What You’re In Until You’re Out at The Bunk in early 2022 with Matt Schimelfenig (guitar, keyboard, vocals), Pat Conaboy (guitar), Dennis Mishko (bass), and Miles Ziskind (drums). Schimelfenig also recorded and mixed the record, while Ryan Schwabe mastered. Mark Glick (cello), Mike Park (saxophone), and Brian Lockerm (trumpet) guest across four tracks.
College Street Music Hall
238 College Street
New Haven, CT, 06510