With a prolific year releasing both “No Dream” and its fedora-friendly companion record “Ska Dream” along with an EP of songs written during lockdown called “2020 Dump,” Jeff Rosenstock has had a time navigating the pandemic world of being a touring artist. On his first tour back, he brought along Oceanator and Slaughter Beach, Dog on the road across North America. While their previous tour with Joyce Manor and Remember Sports saw them perform across the state of Florida, this time Rosenstock only performed one Florida show at Orlando’s The Beacham.
Oceanator is the project of Elise Okusami, previously the drummer for singer-songwriter Vagabon. Now heading her own band, Oceanator displays Okusami’s approach to indie-rock with diaristic lyricism over thrashy guitars and drums. Signed to record label “Tiny Engines” the band is in great company with contemporaries like Spirit of the Beehive and The Hotelier.
In 2017, I had tickets to what was supposed to be the final tour for Philly emo band Modern Baseball. However, within weeks the band had effectively disbanded, and I was refunded. The band had opted instead to perform three final shows at Union Transfer. The last words the group had ever sang were “Even if you can’t see it now, We’re proud of; what is to come, and you.” Those lyrics rang true, when in 2021, I finally got to see Slaughter Beach, Dog, the band of Jake Ewald and Ian Farmer. Hearing the new sound the two had adopted made me gratified to see an evolution of their sound that’s far more laid back and more refined. The group is a natural progression of both maturity and storytelling with Ewald’s literary wordsmithing and musical compositions in the realm of acoustic folk rock. If I could make a parallel, the evolution from Modern Baseball to Slaughter Beach, Dog evokes the musical shift of Jenny Lewis after the disbandment of Rilo Kiley. The band’s set was a tight half hour, playing tracks from their earlier discography and their latest “At The Moonbase” released in 2020, with an appearance from Jeff Rosenstock on the song “A Modern Lay.”
“I wanna be the very best, like no one ever was” the Pokemon theme song rang overhead as Jeff Rosenstock and crew ran on stage. If the crowd wasn’t already buzzing for the man of the hour, this intro immediately won over a Millenial/Gen Z audience with a rush of nostalgia. Immediately ripping off the rose tinted glasses, the band performs “No Dream” from the eponymous record released in 2020. With an intensely energetic delivery, Rosenstock enunciates increasingly sharp social commentary, especially present on the record “No Dream” painting the landscape of navigating our late capitalist hellscape.
“They were picking up the bodies on TV/When I caught a reflection of you and me/Staring back at us while frozen on the screen/Crank the white noise and pretend that we’re asleep/That we’re asleep, dream, dream, dream, dream”Jeff Rosenstock- “N O D R E A M”
Between cuts from the latest record, the band played tracks from classic records like “Worry.” and “We Cool?” along with the surprise record “POST-” as well as, the hitting track “CARING” from “2020 Dump,” a record Jeff wrote during lockdown. In a similar, yet distinctly Rosenstock-ian way to Bo Burnham’s “Inside,” the singer tackles the interpersonal feelings of being unproductive amidst a global pandemic, solo on guitar as part of the encore.
“It’s been so long since I’ve done what I should/That I forgot what I’m supposed to do/Realistic goals/Feels amazing to set them/Like shit when you don’t follow through/Or even make repeated attempts/Your paranoia’s got you verklempt”Jeff Rosenstock- “CARING”
As an artist with a presence in the punk scene for years, Rosenstock keeps his cognizance about the audience. Rosenstock emphasized consent between songs, especially for anyone being touched in a non-consensual way in the crowd. At one point, the singer stopped a song due to a skirmish in a mosh pit from someone falling over and did not continue until the crowd gave him the all clear to keep going. Jeff Rosenstock is one of the few punk musicians to walk the punk ethos he talks about in his lyrics. Even with his whole band in face masks (and the entire front row being masked) it’s clear the group cares for both their self-preservation and their audience on the road.