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- Against Me! »
Raspy, big-chorus guitar-rock with more hooks than a tackle box is Floridian punk rock outfit Against Me!'s business, and business is good. Their last release, the Butch Vig-produced New Wave, contained ten slices of crossover punk-pop perfection, so it’s no surprise the band have recently found themselves opening for the Foo Fighters and sitting in Springsteen's top MySpace friends.
However their existence appears a fairly awkward one. Having sold out in the eyes of the scene, they lack credibility, victims of the fundamentally flawed ideologies of the punk movement. By the time they arrive it has gone 10.15pm and this varied crowd - which ranges from the pierced and tattooed alt-brigade to pissed-up clean-cut student-types, pretty girls through to middle-aged men - are all crammed together like they're at a protest march.
Kicking off with Guitar Hero contender 'Piss And Vinegar', the place erupts. I watch two of the pissed students clatter into each another before smacking each other to the ground (clearly tonight this violence is taking the place of the usual routine of self-masturbation after getting knocked back after eight pints of 'snakey-b' down 'the union'). Frontman Tom Gabel's throaty and ragged vocal is delivered as if spitting hornets from his voice box directly into the auditory canals of those in the first half of the crowd. It’s a short, sharp, energetic affair. The two- and three-minute bursts of anthemic punk find fists violently punching the air and a constant stream of crowd surfers floating over the top. The entire venue bellows "Protest songs in response to military aggression..." along with the chorus of 'White People For Peace' and the floor appears to bounce to latest single 'Stop' as Gabel shouts - sticking it to the man - "All of our lives dedicated to shoving it right back in their fucking face...".
Blending the credibility of Fugazi with a twist of early Green Day's pop-spirit the band have this crowd, at least, right on their side, and even those unfamiliar with the band’s work can join in as bassist Andrew Seward fills in on backing vocals with lots of "oohs" and "ahhs" as well as adding to the distorted clatter whilst spitting five feet into the air during 'American Abroad'. But it’s drummer Warren Oakes who makes this live show memorable, his precise and energetic work on tracks like 'Up The Cuts' making Against Me! much more than just another sneering group of punks from America. Forty-five minutes later, they are gone.
Undoubtedly off to the Warped tour...
Photo: Bonnie Rae Mills