Concert review: Grandson & K.Flay | 06.16.23, The Factory (with photo gallery)

Photo of Grandson by Erica Vining

w/ Jack Kays

“F*ck Mitch Mcconnell” was written boldly on his chest as he confidently vaulted into the Kentucky crowd, knowing he would be caught. That was the second time I was able to witness the glory that is Jordan Benjamin, AKA Grandson. The first time I met Jordan was in Florida in 2019 on the festival circuit, when he agreed to a photo in exchange for my pink fruity drink, to which I gladly obliged. A near hurricane forced that show into the dreaded “Code Red,” so I was thrilled when he was announced closer to home at Louder Than Life 2021. That show was incredible but blazing hot and packed to the brim, nowhere near as intimate as what I was hoping for. After waiting nearly two years I finally got the chance to see Grandson again at one of my favorite local venues, The Factory.

My teenage stepdaughter and I bonded years ago over Grandson’s song “Blood//Water,” so when I snagged tickets for the show, I knew I needed to bring her along with me. She was reluctant at first as she was unfamiliar with the opening bands and of course boredom is equivalent to torture for teenagers. I tucked her away sitting in a corner with her phone before taking off to catch the first opener of the night, Ohio based Jack Kays. I was surprised (and a bit smug) to find her in the crowd after finishing my photo set in the pit. She was enamored by the young singer as he strummed away on his guitar with his impressive mullet adding to the pop-punk aesthetic of his music. Kays introduced the crowd to his newest single “Caffeine” ahead of its commercial debut on the 26th of this month, with the song giving Blink-182 vibes and just a touch of MGK. When I first heard Kay’s hit “Morbid Mind,” I was near certain I was listening to a cover of Avicii, but the similarities ended following the opening riff. Kays uses upbeat rhythms while lyrically tackling heavy topics such as mental health and substance use. He tops my list of favorite new finds this year, and my stepdaughter has asked me to play him anytime we get in the car for the last week, so I’m counting that as a mom win.

K.Flay took the stage following Kays, and this may be my favorite photo gallery I’ve put out this year. Her energy was infectious, she left no part of the stage untouched. K.Flay opened the set with “The President Has A Sex Tape” and the name alone had me adding it to my playlist. Despite differences in genre, K.Flay built upon the energy that Kays set up with his acoustic pop sounds. Her music was more electronic and hip-hop, reminding me just a bit of Meg Myers but with rap elements. She played an unreleased song—“Punisher”—and I have shamelessly listened to YouTube recordings of it since that night because it was so catchy. K.Flay closed her set with her hit “High Enough” and the crowd joined in singing the chorus and cheering for her well after she’d finished for the night.

The stage transformed into a theatrical set ahead of Grandson’s entrance, with fogged-out lighting setting an emotional scene complete with a bench and forest background similar to his album cover. A street sign featuring the title of his second full length album I Love You, I’m Trying rounded out the setup. The moody scene eventually was broken up by the contrasting sounds of Eminem’s “Lose Yourself,” which left us confused but very into it. Benjamin’s hype song ended as he found his place on the bench to the opening piano notes of “Two Along the Way” from his most recent album. The minute-long intro track set the mood for an absolute explosion into “Drones” featuring the most bizarre time signature my brain has ever tried to process. Grandson has a knack for the bizarre and unique, so I’m rarely surprised but always intrigued to hear something new of his. It is difficult to group Grandson into a genre, or even to compare him to others. His sound is so incredibly inimitable and downright chaotic that he forges his own path through the musical discord. Weaving through his 24-song set, Benjamin made time to interact often with the crowd as well as give a call for unity speech midway through the night. K.Flay joined him on his bench for “Zen” and stuck around for “Peaches” as well. Those who stayed were awarded with “Blood//Water” as the final track of the night. I ended the evening a proud grandkid, thankful to have caught Grandson before he heads overseas for a months-long international tour. | Erica Vining

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