Against Me! Give It 100%
Some bands are just so consistently great live that you can't help but get excited every time a tour date comes along. Playing the Bronson Centre on Friday March 24, Against Me! delivered better than ever.
Opening the night Chuck Coles gave a more intimate acoustic set, playing with his guitar, and giving roughness to his songs through his vocals and themes. However anyone felt about having an acoustic set open the night, Coles chops were undeniable as a writer and singer, and he delivered a great set nonetheless. Interestingly closing on a cover of "Hallelujah" Coles definitely left the crowd intrigued by the end of his set.
Shifting into distortion, and setting the tone for the rest of the night was the hefty set from Mobina Galore.
Between the two members the sound was intense, and realistically the only thing holding them back visually was the necessity to stay in place to sing and play guitar in a duo. Harmonies flew, drums boomed, members jumped, and the amps were roaring with feedback.
Their energetic was elevated by their clear excitement to play, with smiles constantly flying along with hair, which also often obscured the singer's face in a way that actually worked visually.
Not playing around with the crowd, Against Me! burst onto the stage, with a crashing rendition of "True Trans Soul Rebel" with the overwhelming chants of "Who's Gonna Take You Home Tonight?" ringing through the Bronson Centre, and their catchy riffs moving bodies in the pit. Keeping the momentum going, they moved right into "333" pushing the crowd vocals even higher, along with their frantic movement on stage, with Laura Jane Grace coming to the mic to bring the crowd more to her side with every line.
The band continued to keep the energy on full-tilt all night, jumping in together for rock out moments between "Dead Friend" and "Haunting, Haunted, Haunts," rarely letting up for more than a moment.
Moving into "Unconditional Love" the crowd became more unhinged, moving around more and more, but they couldn't help but stop and clap through the song's breakdown. The track's round-style harmonies, were amplified by the crowd, taking turns on which part to take. It was refreshing too, to see the band refrain from any sort of overly indulgent solos, with a 10 second moment of drum magic briefly taking over "Transgender Dysphoria Blues" but quickly moving on before it got out of place.
The band's live energy became contagious as each member would grin from ear to ear, Atom Willard smiling his way through constantly demanding drums and bassist Inge Johansson throwing his light amount of goofy style into his performance. Grace seemed the most excited as she thanked the crowd repeatedly, and bounced around the stage, even bringing herself to the edge just for the fans.
Their energy turned to synchronized head-bobbing through flashing lights on "New Wave" which got even more entertaining as they closed out with a series of synchronized band hits, giving each note more emotion than the last. The crowd finally turned to a mosh pit on "Thrash Unreal" appropriately taking the name and running with it apparently. The vocables that fill the song's choruses were sung back so loud, it was hard to tell at times if the band was actually singing them or if they'd let the crowd take over. There was a similar sense of flash and awe firing through "White Crosses" heavier rock, keeping the crowd moving nonetheless.
The lighter mood however of "Crash" brought a welcome, and more easy-going fun break to the middle of the set, giving the crowd something that demanded more dancing in place and singing like nobody's listening.
On "Delicate, Petite & Other Things I'll Never Be" they went into a much groovier and psychedelic tangent, with extreme tremolo and distortion giving the room a much more trippy atmosphere. Nevertheless their angrier choruses were still enthusiastically echoed back. "How Low" was similarly different, taking things in a more bluesy direction, and giving a gripping guitar and drums intro. When the band came in, the emotional and dynamic weight hit hard, making fans jump with fists in the air, and the stop-and-go moments within, took the dynamics even further, as the band continued to take moments to come together and just rock out with one another.
After the enticing Latin grooves and tremolo-laden solos of "The Ocean" Grace took a moment to thank the crowd and Canadians for being so welcoming, citing how easy it is to cross in but how especially lately the border patrol is so unwelcoming on the way back to America. She also mentioned their ongoing tour with Green Day, explaining they were her first concert and the ones who inspired her to start a band, saying "Who knew 20 years later we'd be touring with them."
Through some more driving songs that never found the crowd tiring out of their movement, just slowing down, they came to "I Was A Teenage Anarchist." This classic of their set reignited so many fires, that the dormant crowd-surfers started again and the pit came alive, singing, pushing and jumping as ever. Closing on "Black Me Out" the slower choice brought a different, more head-rocking energy out of the crowd, as voices started to rust, the rasps brought a fun tone to the finale of the show.
Not ones to stay too classic, they came back for a five song finale, opening with a crowd-pleasing Mountain Goats cover. Moving forward, it felt like the band hadn't even left the stage, racing through songs, and even cutting in extra songs to give "Baby, I'm An Anarchist!" as much time as they could get. Closing on "Sink, Florida, Sink" the band ended with a satisfied crowd, which seemed to make them even happier, giving one of the most on point rock shows anyone could ask for.
True Trans Soul Rebel
Haunting, Haunted, Haunts
Reinventing Axl Rose
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
Delicate, Petite & Other Things I'll Never Be
Pretty Girls (The Mover)
Tonight We're Gonna Give It 35%
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Walking Is Still Honest
I Was A Teenage Anarchist
Black Me Out
The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton – The Mountain Goats cover
Baby, I'm An Anarchist!
Sink, Florida, Sink