By Zachary Gelfand at 4:47 PM Monday, May 5th 2014
Since the release of their excellent new record Transgender Dysphoria Blues back in January, Against Me! has been on tour almost non-stop, making rounds back and forth across the country with little to no breaks. The latest leg of this tour kicked off in late April and enlisted help from openers Big Eyes and Tony Molina, both lo-fi underground punk acts that fit the mood perfectly. I headed to upstate New York to the The Chance Theater, essentially a large dive bar, right smack in the middle of the city of Poughkeepsie.
Promptly at 7PM, three-piece act Big Eyes took the stage to a crowd of under forty. With a raspy-voiced female singer and power-chord-based songs, Big Eyes did not sound dissimilar to Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, a sonic characteristic that seems to have somewhat decimated over the years and was certainly welcome.
Big Eyes were followed closely by Tony Molina, who, with seamless transitions between songs (all of which were less than two minutes), only seemed to play one song for about twenty minutes. As the crowd began to move away from the bar and fill the pit area, Molina and his band played a wonderfully fast, loud, and feedback-ridden set.
By the time Tony Molina exited the stage, the pit was almost full and the excitement in the air was certainly noticeable. The shrieks of fans yelling “LAURA” as the technicians uncovered the drum set and turned on the amplifiers was almost deafening to someone standing in the photo pit. Finally, at exactly 9PM, Laura Jane Grace emerged smiling from the shadows, blasting the opening notes of Transgender Dysphoria Blues’ lead single FUCKMYLIFE666 before the rest of the band burst into action, the riled-up crowd yelling every word to come out of Grace’s mouth.
One of the many beautiful thing about Against Me! is their amazing ability to perfectly transfer the recorded sound to the live setting. Whether it be tracks from Transgender Dysphoria Blues or 2010’s excellent White Crosses, the songs sound almost identical to the way you hear it on record, an aspect that is often lost in a live performance in favor of visuals and other various staging.
Despite the signs around the venue that read “ANYONE CAUGHT MOSHING OR CROWD SURFING WILL BE PROMPTLY EJECTED FROM THE CHANCE,” by the time I Was A Teenage Anarchist rolled around, the crowd began to go into a frenzy, a circle pit opening up in the center of the floor, much to the dismay of the bouncers standing upon the speaker stacks. The crowd got more out of control when the thrashing Transgender Dysphoria Blues cut Drinking With The Jocks came during the encore. As kids began jumping on each other’s shoulders and crowd surfing toward the stage, the bouncers moved from their perch on the stacks to the pit area, pulling kids out of the crowd and passing them off to be thrown from the venue. However, once the crowd caught on, they started pulling people back before the bouncers could get their hands on them. After all, as one girl whispered in my ear while we waited for Against Me! to take the stage, “Nothing else matters, man, we’re all here for the same reason.” Well said, girl. Well said.
Against Me! Setlist: FuckMyLife666; Cliché Guevara; New Wave; Walking Is Still Honest; Unconditional Love; I Still Love You Julie; True Trans Soul Rebel; Don’t Lose Touch; I Was A Teenage Anarchist; Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists; Pretty Girls (The Mover); Transgender Dysphoria Blues; Miami; Americans Abroad; Dead Friend; White Crosses; Thrash Unreal; Black Me Out; The Ocean; (Encore: Pints Of Guinness Make You Strong; Drinking With the Jocks; Sink, Florida, Sink)
Check out a full gallery of photos below.