Tag Archives: Butch Vig


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


Garbage Play The Wellmont Theatre Tomorrow Night

March 19th, 2013

Butch Vig became a producing superstar when Nirvana’s second album, Nevermind, knocked Michael Jackson from the top of the charts and went on to capture the zeitgeist of the early ’90s. But he wasn’t just interested producing music. Vig (drums) also wanted to play it. And to that end, he teamed up with fellow producers and multi-instrumentalists Duke Erikson (bass) and Steve Marker (guitar) to form Garbage, even before they added Scottish singer Shirley Manson to the mix. The band entered the mainstream with the 1995 release of a self-titled album, with hits like “Stupid Girl” and “Only Happy When It Rains.” The quartet steadily released more music (another three LPs) and toured through 2005, and then following an 18-month hiatus, returned to play a benefit show in early 2007. But it took another three years or so for Garbage (above, playing “Stupid Girl” for KROQ FM) to return to the studio to work on Not Your Kind of People (stream it below), which finally came out last May. The band is now out on the road, and you can see them play The Wellmont Theatre tomorrow night.

(Friday’s show at Terminal5 is sold out.)


This Is Garbage

May 23rd, 2012

Garbage – Webster Hall – May 22, 2012

Garbage kicked off a tour in support of Not Your Kind of People, their first album in seven years, with a sold-out show at Webster Hall last night. The band, comprised of all the original members from their mid-’90s roots (Shirley Manson, Steve Marker, Duke Erikson and Butch Vig, plus touring bassist Eric Avery), set the energetic tone with an immediate onslaught of songs, beginning with new number “Automatic Systematic Habit,” followed by a string of older material—“Temptation Waits,” “Shut Your Mouth,” “Queer,” “Metal Heart” and one of the bands’ big hits, “Stupid Girl.”

With bits and pieces of aggressive punk rock, fuzzy shoegaze, frenetic, skittering electronica and even hints of down-tempo trip-hop, the band’s music managed to be catchy while maintaining a cool, disaffected edge, thanks in part to frontwoman Manson’s solemn, intense delivery. As she sang, Manson stared down the crowd with a gaze as smoldering as the fiery red hair she wore in two Princess Leia cones atop her head, and even when not singing, Manson was just as commanding: deliberately pacing the stage, circling her microphone stand like an eagle honing in on its prey and then pouncing at just the right moment to deliver another verse. When the band finally took a short pause, the crowd erupted with a lengthy round of applause. “Wow,” exclaimed Manson, “I guess it’s a stupid question, but … have you missed me?”

To say those in attendance had missed Manson and the band was certainly an understatement, and last night’s performance served as a reminder that the group’s unique style and sound have gone unmatched in the musical scene during their hiatus. As an additional treat, Garbage didn’t shy away from back-catalog hits, performing renditions of “I Think I’m Paranoid,” “#1 Crush,” “Push It” and “Only Happy When It Rains,” which Manson and Co. milked for full dramatic effect, starting off at half-speed, before creating a slow, dramatic build that kicked into gear as Manson crooned the iconic line, “Pour your misery down on me,” echoed twofold by the enthusiastic voices singing along in the crowd. Although Garbage has been missed, last night was a warm welcome back. —Alena Kastin

Photos courtesy of Diana Wong | dianawongphoto.com