Did you attend this show? Head here to submit your review of the event.

Despite Jeffrey Lewis's patent stamp of being an 'anti-folk' composer, Bristol's hidden Park Street den, the Folk House, could not have been a more fitting venue for the New York based artist to open up his world to public view. The main stage and its attached outdoor balcony, situated on the lower floor of the humble café, was already bustling with comic and music enthusiasts as Bristol based duo You Me & Thomas paved the way for Lewis's arrival on stage with their own brand of '90's shoe-gaze noise pop. But Lewis was by no means out of sight - he sat at the stages entrance, dealing out branded merchandise, limited edition comics and albums to a crowd almost too large to handle for one man and his creations.

Being somewhat unfamiliar with Lewis' work, I wasn't entirely sure what to expect. The fusion of two mediums can open up a mountain of possibilities for the artist and their audience, musical compositions springing to life through the nature of storytelling.

Lewis entered the stage assertively, armed with a collaged traveler's guitar and a compact but powerful range of distortion and delay pedals. Witnessing Daniel Johnston's iconic illustration of 'Jeremiah The Innocent' pasted firmly to his guitar reaffirmed that all conventional music structure was about to be parted with.

What followed was a spread of punk-meets-folk compositions, beginning explosively with one of the band's most recent offerings 'What Would Pussy R. Do?' to explosive applause. Each track, however fast-paced, nostalgia filled or explosive, solidified Lewis' ability to weave any political of self-deprecating narrative with music as the facilitator. In the vein of Moscow based feminist-punk group Pussy Riot, "the biggest hint is that art is all that convinces...and the world needs more punk rock heroes."


If Lewis' music cements his personal stance on art and self-expression in a modern consumerist culture, his trademark live comic book readings do more to bring storytelling to the forefront of the performance. His latest rendition of Part 6, 'The History of Communism: Vietnam' steamrolled through the entire history in their climb to independence, fighting off the exterior forces of France and the United States, capitalist sentiments of the 20th century and their desire to lay the foundations of communism. Backed by drummer Heather Wagner and bassist Caitlin Grey, Lewis brings his visual history to life in what seems like a single breath, blowing the minds of spectators and historians alike.

As the set draws to a close the band hit a more nostalgic note, raising sociological ponderings, as in 'You're Invited' - raising the importance of societal celebrations in replacement of technological distractions that fill our lives. It acts as a fitting end as Lewis and his band exit in whirlwind of emotion, Lewis running to the stages entry to sell off the remainder of his material.

More than anything, Jeffrey Lewis has revealed that there is still support (perhaps even widespread) for the counter-cultural underdog. He is truly the embodiment of his questionings of 'What is culture?' and 'What purpose does art have in a fast-paced world?' The symbioses by which his comics and music survive illustrate his dedication to the cause - no matter how self-deprecating, nihilistic or just plain entertaining. If you stop to listen closely, you may even learn a thing or two.