Jesse Malin is a storyteller, there are no two ways about it. His two albums, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction and The Heat, are full of expertly crafted narrative songs which are able to paint a vivid mental picture for the listener. On Friday, Jesse showed a sold-out Schuba's crowd that his storytelling abilities aren't limited to song lyrics alone, as he spent about 1/3 of his hour-long set chatting it up with the crowd. Most nights and with most artists, I would have been annoyed. I came to hear music, not jibba-jabba (as Mr. T would say). However, that was not at all the case. Interspersed between songs like "Downliner" and "Wendy" from his debut, and "Swinging Man" and "About You" from The Heat, Malin would tell stories. The amazing part was how engaging and entertaining they were. He had the entire crowd hanging on his every word and laughing along with his jokes, without a single fan shouting something stupid like "Freebird."
There was no agenda to his non-musical musings, nor a hint of pretentiousness. Malin just seemed like one of those people who is genuinely happy and comfortable as the center of attention. He wanted his fans to have a good time and was able to make sure that happened. At the same time, he showed us a piece of Jesse Malin the man, as well as Jesse Malin the ex-D Generation rock star.
Accompanied by a full band (keys, drums, lead guitar, bass), Malin pulled a slight majority of songs from his debut album, The Fine Art Of Self Destruction. These got the biggest reaction from the crowd, as The Heat is not out domestically until June 29 through Artemis. It IS available at shows though, and I saw quite a few people stopping by the merch booth to pick up a copy (also available on full length vinyl). When not chatting with the crowd, Malin gave 100% to the music, dancing, jumping, fist pumping, etc. His on-stage moves were reminiscent of The Boss and only added to the fun. Malin seems like an A+ drinking buddy, in addition to a fantastic performer and extraordinary songwriter. I recommend checking him out if at all possible.