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Recap: Grandson Packs the Roxy, Igniting a Sold-Crowd on the ‘No Apologies’ Tour

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There’s a certain experiential element to a Grandson gig. On Tuesday night, the No Apologies tour rolled into Hollywood, and he (otherwise known as Jordan Benjamin) and his band entertained a very excited and enthusiastic sold-out crowd at the Roxy that showed just how real the buzz surrounding this project is.

Grandson has been working hard in recent years, releasing one-off singles and a pair of EPs that have earned some big-time attention and, lately, some play from KROQ in Los Angeles with the single “Apologize,” and it’s safe to say it’s working. Most of the shows on this tour were sold out, and from standing in the crowded Roxy it was apparent that folks REALLY like what they’re hearing, to the effect of passionately singing/shouting along with Benjamin as he bopped around the stage, putting every last bit of energy he has into every song, every verse, every impassioned plea to the audience.

That’s the most engaging element of Grandson’s music, really. The passion. Wearing a white t-shirt that read, simply, “FUCK STEVE BANNON,” Benjamin doesn’t hold back with his music. The whole aesthetic of Grandson’s thematic approach is in-your-face defiance, whether to the gun lobby (on “Thoughts and Prayers”), politics in general (“War”), or more personal riffs on addiction and mental health (“Overdose”). Set to hard-charging music that veers from rap/metal with trap beat elements, the result is a cacophonous flurry of boundless energy that is a powerful thing to behold, whether recorded or in a live setting.

The songs are so heavy with meaning and focus that it’s impossible to “ignore the politics and just enjoy the music,” which is something music fans sometimes try to do when their favorite artists try to take a stand or make a statement — and that’s by design, as the entirety of what Grandson’s all about seeks to push buttons and spark discourse, discussion and change. Hence, Benjamin teaming up with local charitable organizations on each tour stop that support similar messages.

Back to the show itself, the crowd participation was at times deafening, nearly every song eliciting screams as Benjamin and his band mates began playing. Fans knew every word to every track, and we’re talking about an artist that doesn’t yet have a huge mainstream audience.

That’s likely to change, if the Roxy gig (and the general success of this tour) would indicate. The buzz is real.

Support for Grandson came from Des Rocs, a New York City-based rock and roll outfit with a very loud sound and some deeply groove-oriented blues/rock jams that definitely turned some heads throughout the set. Think Arctic Monkeys with a Queens of the Stone Age-esque darkness, delivered by an entertaining vocalist/guitarist who has a bit of an Outsiders vibe, and you’re on the right track.

BarlowLN, who cites 2Pac, Eminem, Johnny Cash and Bob Dylan among his influences, began the night’s events with a musical style that incorporated elements of rock, hip-hop and electronica, featuring songs from his upcoming debut album on Elektra Records. Definitely an artist to watch, he had an intriguing style that totally fit in with the vibe that was to come later during Grandson’s set.

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