In May, Jeff Rosenstock released his fifth solo record NO DREAM, which surprised and delighted his fans. Following his album drop, he also announced that he would be holding an Instagram live stream fundraiser, which took place this Wednesday. For each two dollar donation made by fans, they could submit a song request to be played during the live stream, handpicked at random. All of the proceeds collected will be put towards Black Lives Matter organizations, bail funds and transgender funds. With his arm swirling around in a mop bucket full of the hundreds of song requests, each song of the set was a complete mystery to him and to us until it was shown on screen.
With the requests at first put into a small pretzel container, they outgrew their home and were transferred to a large mop bucket. To set the scene, Rosenstock was in his cutoff shirt and cutoff shorts, acoustic guitar in hand, live from his living room. He started the conversation about his stance on the movements for equality this last month by shouting out those who have participated: “If you’ve organized a protest, thank you… If you’ve been to a protest, thank you. If you’ve been fighting the good fight, thank you.” He advocated for the reform of law enforcement with the replacement of a new system that isn’t morally and ethically corrupt:
“We’ve been making moves to try and abolish the police, and develop something better and actually takes care of everybody, treats everybody equally. There’s been a month of protests for that, that have been met with crazy violent reactions from the police in ways that, like, if you showed fucking videos of this shit to kid versions of you, the kid version of you would be like what crazy country is that? And it’s the country you live in. It’s fucked up.”
Keeping up his promise to let the mop bucket decide his fate, the first song drawn was “Maragaritaville” by Jimmy Buffet. Pulling up the lyrics on his laptop, we switched to (punk) island time. An opposite to his usual indie or punk styles, he covered the song incorporating his own personal twists and lots of extra soul. A hardcore version, if you will. Singing to imitate elaborate guitar solos and shouting in Japanese, his next request was “I don’t Want to Die” by Ging Nang Boyz. A completely different energy than Margaritaville, Rosenstock has covered this punk song in the past at his live shows.
Six of the twenty song requests drawn were from one of Rosentock’s projects, Bomb the Music Industry!, a primarily ska and indie punk musical collective including many members of The Arrogant Sons Of Bitches. During a very experimental era, all of their songs were written, produced, recorded and distributed under the leadership of Rosenstock. A hearty blend of all types of musical styles, they incorporated anything from synths to a full brass section in their music. One song in particular that viewers were ecstatic about was an untitled song that many have deemed the “Don’t Destroy Yourself” song. It was a secret song on the record Vacation that has no official title. He whipped out his baritone guitar for the slower ballad. His relaxed performance style brought on smiles as it felt personal and honest; he talked to the audience throughout his songs and yelled “Oh God, oh God, oh God, oh God” when he had to search up lyrics mid song.
Many requests from the bucket were his own songs ranging from over twenty years ago to his newest album that was just released a couple months ago. One of his originals, “Amen,” is a long track that discusses the performative qualities and hypocrisy that comes with people being over zealous in their religious acts, and the use of their beliefs as a safety net to explain the unfortunate things that happen to us in life. The lyrics read “We don’t believe in God or spirits in the sky/ Unless we’re desperate and need to justify/ The shitty things we do so we apologize/ “Ya gotta get rid of my guilt, God.” Head banging and strumming the guitar so hard strings were expected to pop off, he put his full energy into this track. He held up his guitar to reveal a big crack in the center from pounding on it.
When he pulled out the slip of paper that had “The Guy From Subway” written on it, he groaned. A blast to the past, this was a song he had written at the age of 15 about a girl who “theoretically” dumped him for a guy that worked at a Subway they used to frequent during their school lunch breaks. He didn’t want to play this song in the first place, but thankfully it’s so fast paced that it flew by in no time.
When show time rolls back around after the wake of COVID, there’s no doubt people will cram themselves into a sweaty moshpit to thrash to the shouty lyrics of his newest album. People got a glimpse of that experience when he played “State Line,” “Fame” and “Scram!” loud enough that his neighbors also got a show. Returning with more force and fury than ever, his new album is a deep dive of introspection. He voices his feelings of helplessness while trying to be an activist with an open mind. His genuine relatable angst and uncertainty during a time where everyone in the world is facing adversity together makes this album have a scream-along quality.
At the end of the stream he pulled out one more request to see what it would’ve been before. Giving us hope for an encore, he read it saying “Ha! You’ll never know! Bye!” and leaving us in mystery, ending the stream abruptly.
The live stream in full was posted to his Instagram, so it’s available for viewing at any time for free. He also has provided a link in his bio so that donations can continue to pour in.
Margaritaville – Jimmy Buffet
I Don’t Want To Die – Ging Nang Boyz
Hurricane Waves – Bomb the Music Industry!
The Shit that You Hate – Bomb the Music Industry!
The Verge – Bad Moves
Don’t Destroy Yourself – Bomb the Music Industry!
Sort of Like Being Pumped – Bomb the Music Industry!
Novelty Sweater – Jeff Rosenstock
State Line – Jeff Rosenstock
Amen – Jeff Rosenstock
Fame – Jeff Rosenstock
Dramamine – Jeff Rosenstock
Campaign for a Better Weekend – Bomb the Music Industry!
What’s New Pussycat – Jeff Rosenstock
Wednesday Night Drinkball – Bomb the Music Industry!
80s Through the 50s – Jeff Rosenstock
The Internet is Everywhere – Jeff Rosenstock
The Guy From Subway – Jeff Rosenstock
Favreau – Kudrow
Scram! – Jeff Rosenstock