REPUBLIK, MARCH 29, 2014
With unbridled ferocity, Against Me! made their glorious return.
Laura Jane Grace has found herself both as a person and as the electric frontwoman of Against Me! There is a new fire burning inside Against Me! and it was pure magic to bathe in the flames of their long overdue return to Calgary.
Let’s be blunt: openers Cheap Girls and Laura Stevenson were disappointing. Neither group’s sound complemented Against Me! and, although there were a few well-written songs, it was all just static-filled anticipation until the headliner took the stage.
Too many years have gone by since 200 sweaty young bodies packed themselves into what used to be The Warehouse and screamed the words to “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” as Grace, then Tom Gabel, tore up the stage. With each subsequent tour and record, AM! was reaching a larger and larger audience while simultaneously losing a part of their original diehard fan base. “They sounded better in the basement” was perhaps the most common phrase touted about the band throughout punk rock media and the Never Coming Home DVD interviews.
All you high and mighty hipster-haters, suck it.
Against Me! played their hearts and guts out for Calgary and sounded better and more refreshed then ever. In fact, Grace literally played her guts out as she was suffering from food poisoning and left the stage three times to vomit. Each time, she would retake the stage in minutes and coyly apologize. These modest moments are worth mentioning because on top of AM!’s unbelievable sound and stage presence, Grace was flawlessly sprinting through her second adolescence. She is continuing to evolve as an artist and as a performer, hitting more notes then Gabel ever did.
Armed with merch T-shirts depicting breasts, the hardest-hitting drummer on the planet, and one of the best set lists a veteran fan could imagine, Against Me! killed it. There were old anthems and bangers sandwiched between tracks from the new record, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, but the entire show felt new and exciting.
Grace says, “We can’t choose how we’re made,” but she proves we certainly can choose who we want to be. Thank you, Against Me! for an amazing show and as always, another life lesson.
By Sean Hamilton
Photos by Sebastian Buzzalino