On August first I ventured downtown to see Jonny Craig at one of my favorite places, Backstage Bar & Billiards. On this bill we saw touring support from Foreign, Shaker, & Keepmysecrets. Locals From Zero 2 Hero and The Guilty Party kicked off the night and got us all hyped for what was to come.
From Zero 2 Hero reminded me of the likes of The Fall of Troy or Chiodos, they sounded like they were plucked straight from the early 2000’s post hardcore scene and I was not complaining at all. They’ve got a special kind of energy that could fit in on just about any pop punk or rock bill and I’m interested in seeing where these guys go.
The Guilty Party were a little more moody, but generated a very positive reaction from the crowd. It was stated that this was their first live performance and honestly, I would never have guessed that this was their first time!
Foreign was a change up in the evening. I don’t recall seeing his name on the bill but these things are always subject to change so again, not complaining at all. Foreign combined nod along beats with some very aggressive hip hop tones, along with raspy screams and I was impressed! He owned that stage, and it’ll be interesting to see where this journey takes him.
Another piece of hip hop hits the stage with Shaker. Shaker embodies a similar tone and style to Jonny Craig so it’s not too surprising to see something like this on this lineup. He had mentioned not long after taking the stage that his voice was pretty shot. But honestly, if he hadn’t said anything, you couldn’t really tell. This R&B voice carried through the venue beautifully and smiles could be seen all around.
Something special hit the stage with Keepmysecrets. Some upbeat melodies and deep emotions run with this performer, and I’ve always been a sucker for that kind of energy. The entire set he could be seen running back and forth and the crowd was loving it!
This is a special time for one of the most controversial names in post hardcore. An era of renewed energy and redemption. If you’ve listened to the likes of Dance Gavin Dance or Emarosa, there’s a good chance you know about the trials of Jonny Craig. Jonny has been sober for the last two years and looks to be making serious progress on a personal life level, and I applaud him for that. He looked happier on stage than previous times I’ve seen him, and his vocals are great as ever.
This setlist was comprised of a number of tracks from Emarosa, Slaves (renamed Rain City Drive), and from his previous solo albums. I can’t speak for everyone else on the floor at this point, but I knew all the words to all those songs with the exception of the newer ones. (Jonny was joined onstage by Shaker for “The One”, and again by Shaker and Keepmysecrets for “Goosebumps”)
The set was closed out with the song “Children of Divorce”, a highly somber and emotional track, Keepmysecrets came out again and played guitar while Jonny sang his heart out.
In July of this year Jonny released his sixth solo record, “Still Searching.” Most of Jonny’s music has been centered around addiction and relationships. This release isn’t much different, though there is definitely a bit of a more up and up vibe; but it’s absolutely showcasing pieces of the recovery process that he has chosen to show us.
As a fan, I hope that Jonny Craig continues on through his path of sobriety, not only for himself and for his music, but also for his son and the rest of the people close to him. He has turned his pain into consumable art in the form of music, but despite the troubles he deserves to find his peace within this recovery. I look forward to what’s next to come.
Until next time.
All live photos by Courtney Ware for ZrockR Magazine 2023, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.