Tag Archives: Laura Jane Grace

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Against Me! Thrill Packed Brooklyn Steel Crowd on Saturday Night

October 16th, 2017

Against Me! – Brooklyn Steel – October 14, 2017


For some, Against Me! are the only band that matters, while in other circles the group hasn’t mattered in more than a decade. In their early days, the Florida four-piece fused folk and punk in a way that put their sound somewhere in between Billy Bragg and Crass. Their 2002 debut, Against Me! Is Reinventing Axl Rose, was filled with scrappy sing-along tunes that promoted far-left politics and an infectious DIY charm that quickly won over the punk scene and influenced countless other acts. Then things began to change: Their 2007 album, New Wave, was a divisive sea change for the band as they jumped from indie label Fat Wreck Chords to the major label Sire Records. The LP paired them with famous producer Butch Vig, who helped them expand upon their sound and buff out the amateurish edge that seemed exciting and dangerous to many of their longtime loyal followers. But for those fans who turned their backs around that period, they have really missed out as Against Me! have come into their own in so many ways.

During that period, singer Laura Jane Grace (previously known as Tom Gabel) had begin to subtly hint in her lyrics that she was suffering from gender dysmorphia—and in the following years, she began to fully transition. This process fueled Grace to write the band’s masterpiece, Transgender Dysphoria Blues, so nakedly honest about her experiences while still rocking with more fury and passion than the band had displayed since their early days. During this time, the original rhythm section left and after some temporary substitutions, drummer Atom Willard and bassist Inge Johansson became permanent members. With these additions, Against Me! have become one the best live bands going. And after touring behind their newest album, Shape Shift with Me, for seven weeks, they brought their well-oiled machine to Brooklyn Steel on Saturday for a life-affirming night of rock and roll.

The room boiled over with a collective joy impossible not to notice as Against Me! blasted into Blues“True Trans Soul Rebel.” The mania in the crowd barely let up as the sea of fans bounced along in unison with crowd-surfers perpetually rolling overhead throughout the set. The band treated fans to a well-balanced mix of material from throughout their career, even busting out some deep cuts from the early days, like an especially heavy rendition of Axl Rose’s “Jordan’s First Choice.” One of the most surprising moments of the main set came as the quartet played a faithful rendition of Tom Petty’s “Runnin’ Down a Dream” that did the fallen Florida icon proud. Their encore also started with a cover as Grace played a solo rendition of the Mountain Goats classic “The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton.” The song’s lines “When you punish a person for living his dream/ Don’t expect him to thank or forgive you” could act as a rallying cry for the resistance and Grace sang it with an intense purpose that sent chills down the spine. As the show came to an end, the band went out with a one-two punch of “Sink, Florida, Sink” and “We Laugh at Danger and Break All the Rules” that had fans singing the words long after the house lights had come on. —Pat King | @MrPatKing

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Green Day/Against Me! – Barclays Center – March 15, 2017

March 16th, 2017

Green Day/Against Me! - Barclays Center - March 15, 2017

Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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Against Me! – Rough Trade NYC – September 17, 2016

September 19th, 2016

Against Me! - Rough Trade NYC - September 17, 2016

Photos courtesy of Pat Tabb | pattabb.com

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Against Me! Bring Their Energetic Live Show to Webster Hall

May 2nd, 2014

Punk music comes from all over the country (and the world, really), but in the case of Against Me!, it hails from Florida—first Naples and then Gainesville. Seventeen-year-old Tom Gabel began the band as a solo project but would perform live with others. Four years later, in 2001, Against Me! became a full band playing high-energy shows with the addition of another guitarist, a drummer and a bassist. Since then there have been a number of changes, periodically concerning personnel—although the singer-songwriter and folk-inflected punk have remained central—but the band garnered a considerable amount of attention when Gabel began performing live as Laura Jane Grace two years ago. Their sixth album, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (stream it below), out earlier this year, deals with gender transition. The A.V. Club calls it “the strong, strident sound of a heart-on- sleeve artist owning her newfound epiphany,” going on to add, “Grace may be changing, but so is everyone. What could be more universal than that?” But the fact remains that regardless of being fronted by a man or a woman, Against Me! (above, playing “Fuckmylife666” on Late Show with David Letterman) are a band not to miss. See them play Webster Hall tomorrow night. Tony Molina and Big Eyes open the show.

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Laura Jane Grace – The Bowery Ballroom – August 16, 2013

August 19th, 2013


Photos courtesy of Diana Wong | dianawongphoto.com

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The Cult/Against Me! – Terminal 5 – June 8, 2012

June 11th, 2012


Photos courtesy of Joe Papeo | www.irocktheshot.com

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The Cult and Against Me! Play Terminal 5 on Friday Night

June 6th, 2012

Formed nearly 30 years ago, the post-punk band the Cult first gained popularity in their native England before doing the same in the US several years later. As can be expected of a group that’s been around this long, there have been multiple lineup changes and even a couple of breakups and reunions—but frontman Ian Astbury and guitarist Bill Duffy have remained constants throughout. But rather than perform as a nostalgia act, the Cult (above, doing “Honey from a Knife”) continues to make new music, including the recently released Choice of Weapon.

Against Me!, out of Gainesville, Fla., has gone through some interesting changes since Tom Gabel founded the group as a punk-rock solo project in 1997. The band eventually became a four-piece playing high-energy shows, but Against Me! (below, performing “The Ocean”) has since garnered mainstream attention as Gabel has begun performing live as Laura Jane Grace. No matter whether a man or woman fronts the band, Against Me!, opening for the Cult at Terminal 5 on Friday, is not to be missed.