Friday, February 11, 2011

Against Me! at the Music Box, 1/30/11

As I get older, my concert experience changes.  A lot of that is just me being older and fatter (well, definitely older), but some of it is just the types of bands I'm into now as compared to back in my early concert-going days.  Back then, the idea of a mosh pit seemed, if not appealing, then certainly comforting.  I figured out early on that it distracted too much from my enjoyment of the show, but it was still fairly awesome to have one nearby.  Getting knocked over repeatedly by a skinhead during the Offspring, slipping on the beer-soaked Palladium floor during the mad rush to the stage when the Sex Pistols came out; even standing between the pit and my more timid friends at a Queens of the Stone Age set at Detour--these are some of my fondest concert memories. So it was nice to be back in that punk rock type of environment when Against Me! took the stage at this show.

The crowd, which had been just milling about impatiently since the previous band, sprang to life and charged to the front, while simultaneously creating a large mosh pit.  It was a great achievement in architecture and spacial understanding, and also exceedingly badass.  I didn't even know the song and still found myself caught up, head-banging and pumping my fists at all the shout-alongs.  When I saw them back in August, they had a keyboardist with them for the newer material, but also to flesh out some of the old songs. On this night, though, they were all punk, returning to the traditional four-piece band.  Lead singer Tom Gabel was even more amped up than the last time, and bassist Andrew Seward could barely get his fist out of the air long enough to play his instrument.

As wave after wave of crowd surfers made their way to the front, only to turn around and do it again, Against Me! pounded out twenty-five songs, often leaving me out of breath even on the songs I didn't know the words to. There could have been more new songs, but since they played their Fugazi-ish "The Ocean" I won't complain too much. The first time I heard them, the last thing I thought of was me, sweaty and panting and happy at one of their shows, but that's exactly why it's always worth it to check back in on bands.

The other highlight of the night was opener Cheap Girls, a bunch of kids who looked like they were born in the 90's, but also sounded like they were warped from them. They reminded me of Dinosaur Jr on a lot of songs, only if Lou Barlow permanently took over lead vocals. Very good stuff, and I'm excited to track down their records.

Set List: Pints of Guinness Make You Strong / From Her Lips To God's Ears (The Energizer) / Cliche Guevara / High Pressure Low / Don't Lose Touch / New Wave / White Crosses / Rice and Bread / I Was a Teenage Anarchist / The Ocean / White People for Peace / Americans Abroad / Reinventing Axl Rose / Walking Is Still Honest / You Look Like I Need A Drink / Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists / T.S.R. (This Shit Rules) / Rapid Decompression / Thrash Unreal / Miami / Sink, Florida, Sink

Encore: Up The Cuts / Problems / Baby, I'm An Anarchist / We Laugh At Danger (And Break All The Rules)

Photo by Michele McManmon, LA Indie Music Examiner

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