When you’ve been around the punk scene for a solid decade or so, you come to expect to have your face melted at every show, and the bands seldom disappoint.
This lineup was spot-on from start to finish. Newcomers Annie Girl and the Flight , of (where else?) the Bay Area, have been described as “hypnotic art rock,” which they are, for sure, but that moniker fails to encapture their energy – in particular that of frenetic guitarist Josh Pollock and drummer Nick Ott – or their warmth (lead vocalist and guitarist Annie is all smiles the entire set, and cracks frequent jokes.) It’s always nice to see female musicians get their day along the sausage fest which can be a punk tour, and Annie Girl and the Flight proudly sports two ladies who shred (the second being bassist Lauren Barth.) They were a lot of fun live, and their set went by much too quickly. Check out their “Bodies” EP if you have a moment.
Next up was the band I seem to wind up following around a lot, frnkiero and the cellebration. It’s gotten to the point where their tour manager hands me set lists every time he sees me, because he thinks I’m…well, following them around a lot. No follow-up to freshman album “stomachaches” is being busted out live yet by these cats, but they look like they’re having so much fun playing together, I wouldn’t be surprised if they put something together by next year. This band has incredible chemistry. Rob Hughes and Matt Olsson are both incredible musicians, and Frank and his brother-in-law, Evan Nestor, provide a whirlwind of dualing guitars and vocals which just seem to pour emotion directly into the hearts of even the biggest skeptic.
Finally, the men and women of the hour, Against Me! This was only my second time seeing them play, and fucking wow, do they know how to bring it. They have virtually zero songs in their repertoire that you’re bummed to see busted out live. Their latest installment, “Transgender Dysphoria Blues,” ranks just as high as every other effort of theirs, and has, in fact, become a favorite album to be blasted in our home on any given weekend. The fans know every word to every jam they play, and lead Laura Jane Grace is always happy to grab a body and sing along with him or her as they surf past. This band truly loves one another as much as they love to play, and you can see it. Laura, guitarist James Bowman, drummer Atom Willard and bassist Inge Johansson are so engaging with the audience that it’s impossible to look away, even to take a snapshot. I actually almost got tossed for dancing and singing so hard that I was (allegedly) spilling security’s beers (this was a first). If you do nothing else with your year, find out when they’re coming to your town and get your ass over there.
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