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AJJ’s Knife Man 10th Anniversary Tour Hits The Nile

It has been a little bit since last AJJ played a hometown show. Of course, there was the before vaccine times of Covid and where everything came to a grinding halt for the safety of one another. So it was an understandable longer time. However, a really cool thing about AJJ during that time is they did weekly streams with Sean and occasionally more on their Instagram through the entire quarantining period. On a similar safety note with this tour, they are working to make it vaccinated only and ask that everyone wears masks in attendance that I appreciate them taking the steps for. While the tour included Emperor X and Xiu Xiu, their stop at the Nile would just be Emperor X as Xiu Xiu was under the weather from something they ate. Even so, AJJ celebrating the 10 year anniversary of Knife Man and Emperor X would make for a memorable night of music.

Opening up was Emperor X who introduced themselves as Chad. His set consists of acoustic and folk tunes, but with a little twist. There’s a device attached to his guitar that adds additional electronic tunes and sounds to his songs. The digital sounds and music are the main part of a few of the tracks and for others still leans more acoustic guitar. His songs invoke a whimsy, emotional times, and pretty scientific in topics touched on. I recall songs about no traffic in heaven or the bike lane, one about an Allahu Akbar, one taking place in an airplane, and one just asking if someone ever got help.

A cool closing moment was the last song he dedicated to Steph from the Trunk Space. It branched into a story about how on a tour many years ago his vehicle broke down on the way to the Trunk Space. He never made it in time for the show, but she helped him out when he did finally get to Phoenix. The other part of the story was it is how he was introduced to the guys in AJJ. Emperor X was just a genuine person with really great tunes that has made me a fan from here.

Then it was as if the entire building was waiting for the moment AJJ started. The crowd exploded into bouncing around and a circle pit from the very first song. There was singing along to songs. Among all the moving bodies there was the occasionally crowd surfer to stage diver. It was good to see the full band assembled. You had Sean, vocals and guitar, Ben, vocals and bass, Preston, on guitar and keys, Mark looking like a musical renaissance man, on keys, cello, and bass, and Owen on drums. They made that Nile stage look full from left to right.

AJJ gave us a good hour plus set. As I said earlier, this tour is celebrating their album Knife Man’s 10th anniversary. However, in a less traditional way, the tracks were mixed into the set with others from their deep catalog. It made for a refreshing less rigid setlist that the ones you usually get on album celebration tours of past. I’m sure for AJJ it was a more refreshing way to play them too. The other thing is that we got songs off their newest album, Good Luck Everybody, including “A Poem” and “Body Terror Song.” This tour kind of an album release tour because that album only had about two months to play live before touring stopped in 2020. Finally when it came to their encore from an adoring crowd’s chants, they came back and played a super quick little song to say goodnight. I found myself laughing after that as the lights came up. It was a wonderful positive tone setter to finish a fantastic night of music from both Emperor X and AJJ.

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