Against Me!’s third visit to Lucerna Music Bar was more than a success. The band is at home in small clubs with intimate atmosphere, crowdsurfers and lots of energy. And that is exactly what the Monday show was – the band at their best, the crowd moshing – and all of that in a relaxed, positive atmosphere. It might sound a little clichéd, but an Against Me! show surely is a good place to be.
Two opening acts, Burning Steps and Tim Vantol both did a great job. The first is a raving punk band with a frontman who isn’t afraid to call out the audience for staying in seats – because doing that at an Against Me! show is a “fucking disgrace”, and a bassist who manages to play despite a broken arm (impressive skill, truly). Tim Vantol is an acoustic musician who might have seemed like an odd choice of an opener, but he soon made everybody sing along to his catchy tunes. His show is simple, stripped down to the bone – nothing but him and his acoustic guitar, but incredibly powerful. When he announced his solo show (scheduled for this fall), some were certainly persuaded that they should come.
Against Me! themselves opened their set with “I Was A Teenage Anarchist”, a song off their 2010 record White Crosses. After that the band ripped through two of their classics – “Walking Is Still Honest” and “Pints Of Guiness Make You Strong”. These two songs represent the older, punkier and less melodic era of Against Me! and they get the moshpit going like nothing else. The band sounded awesome. Against Me! are everything a punk band should be, tight, fast and uncompromising.
Against Me! played a good mixture of songs off the most recent album Shape Shift With Me and their older records, mostly focusing on the newest effort and the previous successful album Transgender Dysphoria Blues. Two covers, The Replacements’ “Androgynous” and The Mountain Goats’ “The Best Ever Death Metal Band In Denton” made an appearance, and both were just as good as any of the band’s own numbers.
The frontwoman Laura Jane Grace isn’t much of a talker in between songs but the energy she puts into performing is palpable. She doesn’t need to do anything else but play her guitar and sing her heart out the way she does. Her stage presence is tremendous, magnificient, breathtaking – whatever your favorite superlative is. Laura Jane Grace is the name that comes up on my mind when someone starts talking about charismatic performers. There is so much energy in her voice and she connects with her audience in a beautiful way.
The strong connection between the band and the crowd is one of the things that make Against Me!’s shows feel so welcoming and positive. The main set before the encore ended with “True Trans Soul Rebel”, a song from Transgender Dysphoria Blues. It’s a deeply personal topic for Grace who came out as transgender in 2012, and it felt more than great to see people in the front row waving a pride flag and singing every word of a song that’s about looking for acceptance and understanding. At Against Me! shows, acceptance and positivity are in the air. And it’s so damn good to feel that.