Jack Antonoff, frontman of eclectic rock band Bleachers, would probably love to be described as a modern-day Springsteen.
His bassist/keyboard player rocks a white t-shirt with a red bandana in a look that is on-the-nose reminiscent of Springsteen’s Born to Be Wild album cover; Antonoff sports a denim vest and dad jeans, and holds his guitar aloft by its base at key moments. The band eschews the traditional backdrop in favor of can lights and a black backing with multi-colored LEDs. Antonoff took his childhood bedroom on tour. His Instagram is filled with videos of his family, in particular his dad and his sister (a famous designer in her own right). Taken together, it’s a lot, and can sometimes feel manufactured.
But, as much as it all sounds like a schtick… you wouldn’t be wrong in using the description. He is indeed reminiscent of Springsteen, but he is also a consummate professional in his own right. He’s known for his involvement in the band fun. (who he covered with a softer, sadder take of “Carry On”) and for producing Lorde’s most recent album (the two collaborated on stage at Outside Lands, playing a Paul Simon classic that’s worth your time to watch). During the set, he casually mentions influences like The Allman Brothers Band two-drummer set up, and a particular tone from 70s and 80s albums from a particular keyboard he tracked down after pinpointing on specific albums.
Again, taken together, it’s a lot. But Antonoff combined it all in his nerdy, charming East-coast personality, succeeding throughout the night in his attempts to connect to the packed audience. The band was stellar throughout the evening, highlighting both the drum-heavy bangers and the saxophone-focused emotional jams. Much of the varied crowd seemed to know every word to every song, from the hits (“I Wanna Get Better,” “Rollercoaster,” “Don’t Take the Money”) to the deep cuts (“Let’s Get Married,” “Everyone Lost Somebody”).
Antonoff had the entire crowd at his beck and call, and used his power throughout the set – with no nonsense leaving-the-stage-only-to-come-back-thirty-seconds-later-to-play-an-“encore” (a personal pet peeve; encores should be earned, not given) – to make sure everyone in the hot, cramped theater was having fun together. His live show puts a new spin on his songs, often due to his spoken-word style of singing, resulting in a sound that could be the child of the aforementioned Springsteen and Macklemore. It’s certainly one all his own, however, and one that he excels in; Bleachers is well worth your time and money the next time they roll through town.