September 11, 2010 — No matter what cliques exists in high school — hipsters, jocks, punkers, or the preps — they all had swarmed to the Sound Academy on September 11 for the Against Me! show. Audience members dressed in black band shirts packed into the venue, with an evident amount of energy and excitement in the air.
The opening band, the Flatliners — made up of Chris Cresswell (lead vocals/guitar), Scott Brigham (guitar/back vocals), Jon Darbey (bass/back vocals) and Paul Ramirez (drums) — from Richmond Hill, Ontario, started the night with a loud, punk-rock heavy set, getting the early crowd dancing and security busy stopping crowd surfers. Cresswell had an awesome stage presence, thanking the crowd for coming out, as well as Young Livers and Against Me! playing that night.
The Flatliners fed off the energy of the audience, shouting out to a friend for their birthday, and also clearly paying careful attention to their fans. Cresswell explained that their older song “Hal Johnson Smokes Cigarettes” was a request, and could be a “train wreck, helicopter explosion and car crash,”. But it wasn’t. The throwback was awesome, and was actually my favourite piece! The rest of their set was a mix of their older songs such as “Fred’s Got Slacks” (which before playing, Cresswell told that audience “if it sucks, come tell us”) and new material from their album Cavalcade (check out “Monumental”).
The tone of the room changed dramatically as the members of Against Me! took the stage in front of a large backdrop from the cover of their album White Crosses. The crowd went wild with screams and dancing as Tom Gabel (lead vocals/guitar), Andrew Seward (bass), James Bowman (guitar/back vocals), and George Rebelo (drums) from Gainesville, Florida began a smooth and swift set of alternative punk music, including the song “Stop!” which had the whole venue singing along. The use of strobe lights and colours, mix of vocals with musical interludes, and facial expressions of the band members made for a wicked performance to watch.
In my opinion, “I Was A Teenage Anarchist” is Against Me!’s strongest song, as non-dancers began to move, and the shirtless crazies throwing half-full beer cans calmed down to enjoy the song. Lead vocalist Tom Gabel owned the stage during the piece, with perfect pitch in his voice and throwing his body around the stage in full performance mode. I found it the clearest of all the pieces to listen to that night, and defines the sound of Against Me! for new listeners.
The band ended the show with encore of fast and slower songs (song “Joy” from album, Searching for a Former Clarity, was fantastic), leaving fans hanging around the venue cheering and avoiding the heavy rain outside. The band used the whole stage to perform, and the highly choreographed lights show added an eclectic element to the show, making it more interesting to watch. Against Me!’s music is fantastic, but I wish that the band had made more of a connection with the audience. There were shout outs of thanks, but nothing personal from the band.
However, if you want a sweaty, crazy rock show experience, be sure to check out Against Me! and wear something you don’t mind beer getting spilled on.
PHOTOGRAPHY BY GENEVIEVE LUI