July 25J saw the return of Jeff Rosenstock to our favorite all-ages DIY venue in town: the Holland Project. Show-goers were easy to spot, many clad in t-shirts bearing the logos of AJJ, Asian Man Records, and the like.
Reno’s very own math rock darlings, Rob Ford Explorer, opened up the night with a killer set. I’m ashamed to say I hadn’t seen Rob Ford Explorer live before that night. I only knew I had high expectations for them, thanks to multiple friends of mine raving about them. And my expectations were more than met: I’m no musician, but I was blown away by the duo’s sheer technical skill- RFE proves that you don’t need vocals when you’re THAT good. Guitarist Cameron made an endearing little speech about meeting Jeff Rosenstock and how inspired by him he was before the pair launched into a song called, quite fitting for the night, “Jeff Rosenstock.” Rob Ford Explorer was sort of an odd choice considering the rest of the lineup, but I certainly don’t have any complaints, and judging from how difficult it was to find parking before they had even gone on (rare for an opener), I’m not alone.
The second act of the night was also a duo, rock n roll sisters Gwennie and Lucy Giles, AKA Dog Party, fresh off of a tour backing Green Day. I’m right in between them in terms of age, with Gwennie being 21 and Lucy 19, and seeing them play made me think, “Damn, what am I doing with my life?” The first time I saw them, two years ago, they were backing Kepi Ghoulie at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. They were great to begin with, but since the last time I saw them play, both Gwennie and Lucy have improved exponentially. That night, they treated the crowd to some older songs off of Lost Control and Vol. 4, as well as a song off of their upcoming record.
Dog Party via the Holland Project.
Rob Ford Explorer blew me away with their technical skill playing the drums and guitar; later in the night, Laura Stevenson blew me away with her vocal skill. One of my notes from that night is literally “Holy shit her voice is just as good live,” but in retrospect, her voice is even better live than on recordings. On this tour, Laura, who also plays guitar, is backed by John DeDominici on bass and Kevin Higuchi on drums (both are also members of Jeff Rosenstock’s band). Jeff himself joined Laura on guitar for a few songs, including the extremely catchy “Torch Song.” One of my favorite Laura songs is “The Move,” which I listen to when I’m in my feels- so when Laura dedicated it to her husband, about whom the song is about, I was feeling some typa way.
Laura Stevenson via the Holland Project.
In the same romantic vein, Jeff dedicated “I Did Something Weird Last Night” to his own spouse, Christine. I’d seen Jeff Rosenstock twice before, but never at Holland, and not after they had recently been paid $7500 to play freakin’ Pitchfork Festival. Jeff made a shoutout to Laura with the first song, “We Begged to Explode,” but it was during the second, “Pash Rash” that a pit erupted. For all my fellow rude kids: there was even a circle pit during “Rainbow,” perhaps reminiscent of Jeff’s Arrogant Sons of Bitches days. I was most excited when the band played “Dramamine,” which was partially written in Reno- it shows how Jeff personalizes the setlist every night, tailoring the songs to the location.
That was one of the most stacked shows I’ve ever attended at the Holland Project. To top it off, every single band gushed about how lucky we were to have such a great venue.