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Against Me Show Review

Posted October 21, 2017 by Elena Bottles in Live

Against Me!

Mr. Smalls, Pittsburgh, PA

By Damien Bottles
Photos by Elena Bottles

Music is personal. and all music, performance art, and acts of creativity have their place and a right to exist. Not everything is for everyone, and not everything hits its stride every night. This is a single review, of a single night, in a single venue, stacked with variables, expressed through a single person doing their best to give an honest opinion of what was experienced.

The air is tense with excitement as the lights dim. The capacity crowd is as excited as any crowd I’ve ever seen, and it is truly genuine. The sneering, snotty punks are few and far between, and the crowd it self is decidedly more mixed with punks, hipsters, and commoners than expected. The music starts, and the room explodes as the band takes the stage, a writhing ball of energy barely contained by the stage. The audience and musicians seem to have a connection far beyond the music and lyrics, something devoid of labels or judgement. The fearless, but very human, leader of the Against Me! movement welcomes all, and the show takes off.

The band itself is very well rehearsed, seemingly never missing a beat, each musician having a light and a place without crowding or undermining the lead. The set, in it’s entirety, was carefully planned, each tuning break, each song introduction, down to the last cymbal crash was nearly perfect. Special props go to the stage hands, as there were instrument changes a plenty, seemingly every other song. The stage crew were ready for every one, leaving no delays or dead air that can bring a show to a grinding halt.

The lighting was good, the sound was good, the set was good, but there was something more going on. To be perfectly honest, I didn’t know what to expect with this show, would it be preachy because the singer/guitarist is transgender? Would it be pretentious and unwelcoming to someone like me, a straight male punk? Would it be contentious, with one group only there for the music, and the other only there for the message? It was none of those. It was just fun. The few talking points that were present were concise, and were not divisive but inclusive. The band held true to the old school punk adage “be yourself” and be happy. In the end, the show was impressive musically, and visually, but the intangible sense of community and belonging was what took the show to the next level. I would suggest anyone with an open mind attend the show, and just watch. Watch the band, watch the crowd, watch the eyes of the younger kids light up because for just a little while they can be themselves, they can dance, they can mosh, they can feel safe.

About the Author

Elena Bottles
Elena Bottles


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