Life on the road, even in pursuit of your wildest dreams, isn’t easy. For singer-songwriter Grandson, going from a pandemic to touring globally impacted the musician’s mental health and made him realize he wasn’t really alright. The result of his painful self-reflection is the multi-platinum artist’s second full-length album, I Love You, I’m Trying, which dropped May 5.
“This album for me was, first and foremost, an acknowledgment that I’ve had a problem with my mental health for a while that I’ve been kind of running away from, or pushing down in some ways,” he said.
On the heels of the album release, Grandson embarked on a two-month-long North American trek, featuring special guests K. Flay and DE’WAYNE, to bring this extremely personal new music to fans for the first time.
Jordan Benjamin, also known as everyone’s favorite Grandson, received a harsh reminder of just how challenging life on the road can be when his tour bus broke down en route to The Fillmore in Silver Spring, Md., on Memorial Day. This unforeseen circumstance put the headliner’s status for that evening’s show in jeopardy. Thankfully, everyone was able to get to the venue, but not until much later than originally anticipated.
That caused Grandson to miss a midday meet-and-greet with fans as well as soundcheck. Basically, Grandson and friends arrived in time to unpack and setup whatever needed to be on stage and not much else. And yet, as a testament to the musician’s prowess and professionalism, as soon as the 29-year-old took to the stage, everything else became an afterthought.
“Drones” and “Something To Hide” are two of the lead singles from the new album, so it made sense that both tracks featured early during the set. And while many in the crowd might still be learning the words to these tracks, the audience was clearly into the new music which proved a worthy conduit for the artist’s powerful voice and emotionally charged performance.
Grandson’s energetic live show and dynamic stage presence have rightly earned him praise as a captivating performer. But these live shows aren’t just about him, they’re about each and every person in the building. During his time on stage, Grandson seems to also be cultivating a community. He actually pauses the show to implore those in attendance to introduce themselves to other nearby concert-goers. He wants everyone to have fun, but he also wants everyone to be respectful. To that end, there are three rules at a Grandson show (which have been lightly edited to keep them radio friendly):
1. When Grandson yells “jump,” please get airborne.
2. When singing, please do so loudly.
3. If someone falls, please help them to their feet.
Mosh pits and crowd surfing are fine, and at times are even highly encouraged, so long as those in attendance carry themselves (and crowd surfers) in a respectful manner. At the end of the day, Grandson wants his shows to be the most inclusive rock show imaginable.
With everyone on board, the rest of the evening featured Grandson’s unique blend of alternative rock, rap and electronic music as he bounced around his catalog. Tracks like “I Love You, I’m Trying,” “Bury Me Face Down” and “Darkside” illustrate his thought-provoking lyrics and solidify his reputation as an artist unafraid to confront controversial subjects.
Grandson’s debut album Death of an Optimist focused on social injustice in hopes of sparking conversations and inspiring change, while his newest album focuses on his personal struggles. On both fronts, his music clearly resonates with a younger generation seeking to express their frustrations with the world around them.
As his career continues to flourish, Grandson shows no signs of slowing down — figuratively or literally. After finishing up a spectacular 25-song set, Grandson rallied behind the venue to make things right with the fans who had paid for the missed meet-and-greet opportunity. Sure, it was well after midnight on a rainy Monday night/Tuesday morning, but this passionate performer wasn’t ready to call it quits just yet so his dedicated fanbase were treated to an impromptu jam session.