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Against Me!

September 2, 2016

Marquis Theatre, Denver, CO

The cavalcade of rock & roll carnage known as Riot Fest rolled through the Rockies for its fourth incarnation this summer and no purple mohawk or twentysomething in a $30 Misfits tee evaded its lure. Glenn, Jerry, and Doyle were the talk of the town and their decades-in-the-making reunion garnered press across the national music press. But lost in the omnipresent skullface logos and other assorted hullabaloo were some great afterparty shows featuring RF performers. Thursday, Lagwagon, and Me First and the Gimme Gimmes played late into the night at local venues throughout the long weekend for the benefit of those who, justifiably, are not content with the typically truncated music festival sets. The most notable and perhaps beloved of the afterpartiers was Gaineville, FL’s Against Me!, who returned to their roots by playing a wonderfully raucous show in a sweaty, cramped rock club, the way punk was originally intended to be absorbed by its audience.

Frontwoman Laura Jane Grace appeared to be right at home in these environs, with the ferociousness and vulnerability for which she is known on full display. She and her crew performed an assortment of popular AM! standards such as “Thrash Unreal,” “Miami,” “Sink, Florida Sink,” and “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” along with newer songs from Transgender Dysphoria Blues and new album Shape Shift with Me, which was due for release just a few weeks later. Clash cover “Train in Vain” couldn’t have arrived at better time; the catchy, mid-tempo classic brought together all the kids for a breather from the mosh pit. But when Grace and the band turned their attention back to their old catalog, there wasn’t a single planted foot in the building.

The crowd had been earlier revved up by the sludgy post-hardcore punch of openers and fellow Riot Fest artists Planes Mistaken for Stars. These Denver scene stalwarts confirmed that their own reunion a few years ago was what this town needed in the midst of the Era of Banjos and Manbuns. However, seeing Against Me!, who are no doubt accustomed to much larger venues these days, in an intimate space like the Marquis was such an incredible experience. In fact, when compared to their afternoon set the day after at Riot Fest, it was almost like a completely different band. Their hearts weren’t into it as they were the previous night. There was nothing like seeing them rip through personal favorites “Cliché Guevara,” “Walking is Still Honest,” and “I Was a Teenage Anarchist” just a few feet away. Against Me! weren’t big fish back in the confines of a small pond; they were simply home. And all of us, gathered in their home for one evening, were family.

Article By: Steve Lustig

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