Against Me! | 03.12.07

live_againstI was feeling sick. No offense to the Riverboat Gamblers, but after their set I threw up.






Creepy Crawl, St. Louis

Outside the Creepy Crawl stood dozens of punk rockers enjoying their last cigarettes before they entered the nonsmoking Against Me! show. Instead of being welcomed by the typical smell of smoke, body odor won out over all stenches. With Against Me! shows come a few customs, no smoking and no showering among them.

I had missed Fake Problems, the first opener, and was feeling sick. The Texan four-piece, the Riverboat Gamblers, were up next. Recovery from the lengthy technical difficulties alone gave the crowd something to cheer about, and as the hardest of the hardcore fans made their way to the front, the Gamblers gave them something to mosh about—transforming the front pit into a 12-row-riot.

The band is led by vocalist Mike Wiebe, who sets the breakneck pace by packing 14 songs into a 45-minute slot. Wiebe interjects funny (and cheesy) banter along with some commentary, one time admitting that although you cannot hear every note, you "can feel it." At this point, around the third song, Wiebe had already crowd surfed his way to the bar table. Fans split their energy between Wiebe behind them and the band in front. Once I was tapped on the shoulder to shift my attention to Wiebe, who finished his set with one head in the ceiling tile, crouching atop three speakers. Their set, despite getting laborious towards the end, was a success because they put interesting twists on what has become the most generic genre today.

No offense to the band, but after their set I threw up. Feeling better, my enthusiasm somewhat revived, and the fans were thoroughly pumped for AM!. This gave way to one of the coolest customs in rock music today. Fans, waiting in anticipation, sung along to the folksiest songs of Against Me! March 12 featured "Sink Florida Sink" and, possibly, "Those Anarcho Punks Are Mysterious" which I think I heard a hint of in between trips to the bathroom.

It was Against Me!'s turn next. The band chose the fan-pleasing and St. Patrick's Day warm-up, "Pints of Guiness Make You Stronger," to open with. Tom Gable would fire through three more songs before he held the greeting exchange and introduced his first of three songs from the forthcoming New Wave. Obviously, the songs aren't quite crisp yet, but what was startling was no one in the venue shouting back the lyrics. The band played five of their newer tracks in a row, and protesting still prevails, with lines, "my heart will not reside" and responding to "military pressures." "Don't Lose Touch" seemed a bit played. After "Americans Abroad," from their live DVD, the band went with their never tiresome Reinventing Axl Rose. This song about performing is their live standard and they nailed it, though many fans find the sentiments hypocritical for a band that has sold out to t-shirt sales, big record labels, and, worst, opening for Green Day.

The best live song, and seemingly favorite floating around internet blogs, features a chorus of, "There is an ocean in my soul/ That does not curve." The band finished strong, but fans were unsure if there would be an encore as in years past. After less than a minute off stage Against Me! completed the night with two good ones, including the sing-along "We Laugh at Danger" with the infectious chorus about a GM van making it across the state line.

Against Me! drew from the "B" grade songs but staggered the songs in "A" order. The bands promo for New Wave (due this spring) was a strong case, and as always their live show speaks louder than anything they can put on record. | Joseph O'Fallon


Set list:

Pints of Guinness Make You Stronger
Cliché Guevara
From Her Lips to God's Ears
Rice and Bread
New Song 1 "in response…military pressure…"
Don't Lose Touch
New Song 2 "my heart will not reside"
Americans Abroad
Reinventing Axl Rose
New Song 3 "There is an Ocean in my soul that does not curve"
Sink Florida Sink
Walking Is Still Honest


Tonight We're Gonna Give it 35%
We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)

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