During the drum intro of “Transgender Dysphoria Blues” frontwoman and trans hero Laura Jane Grace of Against Me! announced that she feels uncomfortable in her body 99% of the time, but the 1% of the time she feels comfortable “is right up here onstage with all of you.” That moment, which was about halfway through the set, was a victory for anyone who had been marginalized, picked on or harassed because of how they look, because of who they love, because of who they are. It allowed people to let their guards down, and the crowd’s energy became noticeably more enthusiastic as a result.
That’s not to say it wasn’t enthusiastic to begin with, mind you. From the very beginning of the show, which kicked off with “True Trans Soul Rebel,” the show had all the characteristics of a killer punk show – tattoos, denim vests covered in patches, and enough mosh-energy to power ten city blocks. But by the end of the show, that figure probably doubled to 20. Continue reading →
Against Me! released their latest LP Shape Shift With Me a year ago, and tonight their tour makes a stop at Union Transfer with support from Bleached and The Dirty Nil. The gritty folk-punk band are known for emotional, personal tunes penned by frontwoman Laura Jane Grace; their last two albums reflect on her experiences navigating relationships and life as a transgender woman. Listen below, and find tickets and more information on the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
Rolling off an angst-filled tour opening for Green Day, punk rock favorites Against Me! has announced a headlining tour of their own, with support from Bleached and The Dirty Nil.
Against Me! will be performing their most recent album, Shape Shift With Me, which is the band’s seventh full-length album. Serving as an honest portrayal of sex, love, and heartbreak, frontwoman Laura Jane Grace discusses in a press release her songwriting choice of focusing on personal narratives rather than politics. Continue reading →
Sister Nancy only released two albums in the early 1980s, but the Kingston singer, songwriter, DJ and producer is an undeniable icon of reggae — and of music in general. This is thanks in no small part to her earworm single “Bam Bam” being sampled extensively over the ensuing 34 years. This year alone it wound up in Kanye West’s “Famous”, as well as “Creation Theme” by our own John Morrison. Tonight, Sister Nancy appears at Kung Fu Necktie to as part of PBR’s week of shows leading up to their massive Electric Factory party on Saturday. Tickets and more information can be found at the XPN Concert Calendar. Continue reading →
With the band’s seventh studio album Shape Shift With Me due out September 16th via the band’s own label Total Trebel, Against Me! teamed up with Adult Swim to premiere the song as part of the program’s Singles Series.
The new song is a fast and loud jolt to your system and plays like a bar fight; a swift punch of one liners like “I feel you like a phantom limb,” are met with the blurring madness of a collision of rock and roll sounds. Continue reading →
Punk rockers Against Me! will take to the Trocadero stage tonight in support of their latest album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace will soon star in her own reality series for AOL which follows the singer’s journey through personal and professional struggles that have influenced the new record. Watch them perform “Fuckmylife666” on Letterman below and get tickets here.
Part of the appeal of the annual South By Southwest festival is no doubt wandering from venue to venue in downtown Austin, catching bits of sets by dozens of new bands, seeing where the music and the crowd may lead you.
But there’s something to be said for finding a venue – or party, or showcase, or whatever – with a lineup that’s solid through and through, and just parking yourself there for the night. For me, Brooklyn Vegan’s show at the Red 7 Patio last night was just that. The headlining set by Florida’s Against Me! would have been enough to draw me in – their new rager Transgender Dysphoria Blues is alreadyone of the year’s best, and they were at the top of my bands-to-see list – but they shared the bill with a enticing set of their (mostly) punk scene peers, from Lancaster screamers Placeholder to Jersey popsters The Front Bottoms. And, for the most part, all the acts delivered.
California comedian / musical Harvey Sid Fisher got the night to a light start with a set that was briefly fun and mercifully brief. His shtick is pretty one-note – he’s old, and he’s raunchy, and he sings about raunchy old guy things, and yeah. It’s the kind of humor that wears thin quickly, and while he had the modest crowd chuckling at first (many were still queued up in the alley behind the venue), he wrapped it up as their attention began to wane.
In contrast, Placeholder followed with a full-throttle set that was too brief. These guys might not have the most accessible sound (if you’ve got an aversion to growly vocals, they aren’t for you) but their energy and chemistry are undeniable, and captivating to watch. Frontman Brandon Gepfer is a very physical performer, flinging himself around the stage, into the speakers and his bandmates who reciprocated right back. He told the crowd that they’re used to playing “basements with like ten people,” so this was the biggest gathering they’d played for on tour. Would have been awesome had they played for a little longer, though, since the patio was just filling up when they left the stage, setting the room up for Gainesville’s Frameworks and their melodic spin on late 90s hardcore (a la At The Drive-In, Boy Sets Fire).
Cheap Girls from Lansing, Michigan was the only real disappointing set of the night – their songs are tremendously hooky power pop earworms akin to early Replacements jams, but their stage presence is nil; singer Ian Graham stands at the mic with his eyes closed, Adam Aymor riffs on guitar with his head buried in his hair, and the crowd predictably bobs their heads while checking Twitter on their phones.
The Front Bottoms, on the other hand, are pure interaction – sing/screamalongs, hi-fives, someone buying singer-guitarist Brian Sella a Guinness and daring him to chug it. The audience packed in towards the front of the stage, and became a mass of pushing, shoving, smiling bodies by the time “Twin-Size Mattress” rolled around Amusing aside: a dude in the crowd who books shows in Orlando talked before their set about how he’d never seen or heard of them, but everybody told him they were great. I concurred, and he countered “But they’re acoustic, though?” “Well, he plays an acoustic guitar,” I explained. “But they’re pretty badass.” “Um, I’ll take your word for it,” he replied.
I guess “badass” is relative, considering he might have been there to see brutal hardcore outfit Touche Amore, who absolutely pummeled the stage with their performance that followed – think the physicality of Placeholder, amped up about five times. Think of the sense of tension and catharsis of Converge, Paint it Black or Pissed Jeans. Again, not a sound for everybody, but holy cow what a spectacle to watch.
Wrapping the night around 1 a.m. was Against Me!, playing an hour-plus set highlighting the new LP and digging back through the band’s catalog for sure-fire crowd-pleasers like the title track of 2007’s New Wave and the singalong “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” from 2010’s White Crosses. The crowd that had begun to dwindle slightly – it was a super chilly night for an outdoor show – but the people who stayed were massive enthusiasts on par with the devotion The Front Bottoms and Touche Amore saw, slamming and swaying and screaming along.
Since singer-guitarist Laura Jane Grace came out as transgender in 2012, the band kind of went into reset mode: as she said in a Spin interview back in January, the path to the new album almost destroyed Against Me!, but with the enlistment of new players and perhaps her tightest collection of songs – the album is simultaneously anthemic, provocative, insightful and massively catchy – the band persevered. The patio was a smaller space than Against Me! has probably performed at in a long while, but if the reception the band saw – and the energy it brought to the stage – is any indication, it will prove to be a rare occurrence. Check out photo highlights and a full-show gallery below. Continue reading →
This past weekend, Against Me! played the Chameleon Club in Lancaster in a preliminary celebration of the new Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It’s the band’s sixth LP, but as NPR Music’s Stephen Thompson points out in his First Listen review of the album, it can’t help but feel like a debut, since it’s Against Me!’s first full-length since singer Laura Jane Grace (formerly Tom Gabel) came out as transgender.
As Thompson puts it, while “she still barks her lyrics with fiercely assertive intelligence — with a voice as yet largely unchanged from the one in the band’s earlier work…Against Me!’s subject matter can’t help but be turned on its head”:
At times joltingly profane, Transgender Dysphoria Blues doesn’t let up for 29 brisk minutes, but real tenderness and vulnerability surfaces in the melee. In “Unconditional Love,” Grace repeats the self-lacerating line, “Even if your love was unconditional / it still wouldn’t be enough to save me” — a terrifying and revealing notion, even as Grace remains by all accounts happily married to her wife.
Against Me!’s music only addressed gender issues in passing before Transgender Dysphoria Blues, so the album certainly qualifies as a left turn. But the end result is just as catchy and anthemic as the terrific speedball punk records that precede it. Gabel always told the truth as he saw it, so it makes sense that Laura Jane Grace would do the same, with the added benefit of comfort and courage in her own skin.
Listen to Transgender Dysphoria Blues in its entirety here via NPR Music. Below, watch some fan footage of the show at the Chameleon (which also included sets from The Shondes and The Sidekicks).
Coming from London, psych rock band Toy makes a stop Kung Fu Necktie tonight, on tour in support of their second album Join The Dots. Drawing influence from early electronic music, and some rock from the eighties and early nineties, Toy makes sonic walls of raw guitar, clashing drums, and some straight up noisy electronics. Check out the music video for “Join The Dots” below to see how they can go from laid back to in your face so easily. Toy will be joined by Spires, Far Out Fangtooth, and The Black Hollies. This 21+ show is only $10, get tickets here.