Cinco De Mayo marked Against Me!‘s first full-band Boston performance since the January release of the band’s triumphant full-length, Transgender Dysphoria Blues. While the proverbial piss-and-vinegar that has been the band’s hallmark throughout their six-album career continues to shine through, a 2014-era Against Me! live performance is equal parts catharsis and high-energy celebration. The band’s newest additions, Atom Willard on drums and Inge Johansson on bass, provide an aggressive, air-tight rhythm section for Grace and longtime bandmate James Bowman to build on. While the feel may not be as anarcho-punk as the “old days,” Against Me! remains as intensely ferocious as ever.
The hour-plus set on this night, as on most nights, was made up of a solid cross-section of tracks representative of the band’s twelve-year career (since the release of Reinventing Axl Rose). Though a band’s newer material can sometimes create a lull in a live setting , the Transgender Dysphoria Blues album was both well-represented and well-received by the audience; the opening tones of set opener “FuckMyLife666” sent a virtual parade of crowd surfers over the barrier, landing on the backs of at least one unsuspecting (*ahem*) photographer. Who says moshing is banned in Boston? As the band’s set wound frenetically down, Laura Jane Grace introduced show-closer “The Ocean” by thanking the night’s rowdy crowd and hoping that everyone in attendance “got what they needed” out of the show. And while I cannot pretend to speak for the near-capacity crowd, I got the sense that Grace herself most certainly did.
Support on this leg of the Transgender Dysphoria Blues tour came from Big Eyes, a great alt-punk three-piece that hail from the Pacific Northwest by way of New York (or is it New York by way of the Pacific Northwest? I always get that confused). Admittedly unfamiliar with the bulk of their work prior to their early opening slot, I was won over within the first minute of set opener (and album opener from their newest full-length, Almost Famous), “Nothing You Could Say.” If you’re still reading this and you haven’t yet checked out Big Eyes, do so here. Bay Area-based Tony Molina provided direct support. It’s been a long time since I found myself confused by what, exactly, I had just seen in a live band. Congrats to Tony Molina for stoking those fires. The short (20-minute) set managed to cram in somewhere in the neighborhood of fifteen songs (or maybe just one song fifteen times, I can’t honestly tell). In some ways, it seemed reminiscent of an old Minutemen set, which is a high compliment from me. Yet, in some ways…I couldn’t help but feel like the old guy at the punk show. Hear more Tony Molina here.
Check out our photo album from the night below.
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