It was just Jack and his guitar at the End Session. He was beautifully introduced and his long list of accomplishments came as no surprise to the fans who showed up on a Friday afternoon to hear him sing.
(If you’re not a Bleachers fan, you’ll know Jack Antonoff from the group fun., the Grammy he won for co-writing their hit song “We Are Young” and the other Grammy for Album of the Year for work he’s done on Taylor Swift’s 1989).
We arrived a few hours before the End Session would begin. I hadn’t ever been to one, so I wasn’t sure what it would be like. We were right above the stage area, off to the right. We arrived early enough to grab some food and drinks from the Elysian Brewery before Jack showed up.
He kicked off his set with the Bleachers’ first single, “I Wanna Get Better.” The cameras came out and the crowd started singing along.
After the song ended, he asked how we were doing and the crowd cheered. Except one person, who shouted “better!” The room went silent and then everyone laughed. Jack smiled genuinely and asked for the man’s name because nobody had responded with that before. It was such a personal moment, getting to share a unique experience with an artist whose talents and integrity you admire. That alone made the End Session a priceless experience for me.
He only sang a few songs, ending the session with “Don’t Take the Money,” which is my song of the moment. It was such a beautiful stripped down version of the song, sung more slowly, losing its pop flair in this rendition. As he sang his eyes were closed, his body swaying towards and away from the microphone. The jovial mood from a few minutes prior replaced with the melancholy and striking emotion that I love Bleachers for.
Jack co-wrote “Don’t Take the Money” with Lorde, another artist I love, about how difficult it is to be in a relationship. The song starts with “Somebody broke me once, love was a currency,” and recounts how difficult it is to argue, deal with the eye-rolling and ups and downs of a relationship. The emotional and physical distance that it can cause, leaves him begging his partner to stay true by not taking the (proverbial) money.
The first time he uttered the words “don’t take the money,” they sounded like a broken whisper or prayer. I felt the raw emotion and honesty of his words.
A few days later, friends of mine saw him perform at Sasquatch, and they sent me a video of him performing “Don’t Take the Money.” I was glad to have it and hear it, but it didn’t come close to the intimate performance a small group of fans got to see thanks to this End Session.
I can’t wait to see him when he comes around on tour proper to support the new album.
For anyone interested in digging deeper into the interesting world of Jack Antonoff, the New York Times wrote an in-depth piece about him.
P.S. The video for DTTM features Alia Shawkat, of Arrested Development and Search Party fame, and is directed by Lena Dunham.