The first thing I took note of upon entering Seattle’s El Corazon was its size. The venue couldn’t hold more than a few more hundred people, and the stage was no more than knee-high. I was stricken almost instantly with the realization that this was going to be the most intimate Against Me! show I’ve attended thus far. The fact that Joyce Manor and Andrew Jackson Jihad would also be performing saw my expectations for the evening rise sky high, and I was not disappointed.
Joyce Manor took the stage first. I was lucky enough to see the band headline at San Francisco’s legendary Bottom of the Hill about a month prior, to a riotous response. I figured the reaction was due to the show not being that far removed from home for the young band, but judging by the similar warm welcome they received in Seattle, it seems that they are legitimately blowing up in the punk rock community. Their brief set was a giant blur of stage dives, pile-ons and sing-alongs, the biggest of which were reserved for “Constant Headache” and “5 Beer Plan.” I wouldn’t have minded hearing a bit more from their recently released Of All Things I Will Soon Grow Tired LP, but the earlier songs make for a more energetic live experience anyway.
Call Out (Laundry)
Midnight Service at the Mutter Museum
21st Dead Rats
5 Beer Plan
Andrew Jackson Jihad were up next, and I could not have been more excited. I’ve had several chances to see the group over the years, even purchased tickets on some occasions, and for reason or another it always fell through. They hit the stage in their original two-man incarnation, and while a full-band setup would have kept the momentum from the explosive Joyce Manor set going, I was excited by the prospect of hearing some of their older, acoustic-based works, and they did not disappoint in that department, delivering tunes from People Who Can Eat People Are the Luckiest People in the World, Only God Can Judge Me and their split with Ghost Mice, in addition to the slower numbers from Can’t Maintain and Knife Man.
They don’t seem to be fond of playing their REALLY early material, however. The crowd erupted when the group starting playing Knife Man’s “Sad Songs” only to quiet down upon realizing it wasn’t “Ladykiller.” Upright bassist Ben Gallaty even smirked “You all thought it was ‘Lady Killer’ didn’t you?” between verses. Overall, I was incredibly thrilled to finally get to hear some of my favorite folk-punk tunes live for the first time, and although they skipped a few personal favorites, (namely “People II: The Reckoning” and “Personal Space Invader”) the feeling of screaming “I have faith in my fellow man / And I only hope that he has faith in me” along with an untold number of fellow fans more than made up for it.
The Michael Jordan of Drunk Driving
Love in the Time of HPV
Fucc the Devil
Bad Bad Things
All the Dead Kids
Brave as a Noun
No More Tears
I was having so much fun during the first two sets that I had almost completely forgotten my favorite band was up next. After 30 minutes of some relaxing piano music, Laura, James, Andrew and Jay hit the stage to deafening applause. Opening with a yet-to-be-released song is a tricky move, but a good portion of the crowd were singing along as they launched into “Transgender Dysphoria Blues.” The setlist seemed to favor these hopefully soon-to-be-released tracks along with old favorites. The major label period was largely ignored, with only two songs apiece from New Wave and White Crosses played (I was actually fairly surprised to not hear “The Ocean”).
The bulk of the crowd already knew most of the newer songs (honestly, who hasn’t heard “Black Me Out” by now?) except for one, a gorgeous, melodic mid-tempo number by the name of “Better Days” that, from the sounds of it, will be the “Borne on the FM Waves of the Heart” of the new album. After the closing one-two punch of “Pints of Guinness Make You Strong” and “Sink Florida, Sink,” The group returned for an encore that, very surprisingly, commenced with “Impact” from the infamous Crime EP. From there they bashed out a few more old favorites, including a rendition of "Reinventing Axl Rose" that Laura dedicated to Andrew Jackson Jihad and Joyce Manor, and then closing, as they so often do, with "We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)."
The band nailed every song, as they always do, while looking like they were having the time of their lives. If the new songs sound half as good after studio treatment as they do live, their next album is going to dominate every year end list that crosses its path. If this lineup, or even one of these individual bands comes to your town, you would be doing yourself a disservice by not attending.
Transgender Dysphoria Blues
I Still Love You Julie
I Was a Teenage Anarchist
Don’t Lose Touch
True Trans Soul Rebel
Turn Those Clapping Hands Into Angry Balled Fists
Walking is Still Honest
Drinking With the Jocks
Those Anarcho Punks are Mysterious
Rice and Bread
Black Me Out
Pints of Guinness Make You Strong
Sink Florida, Sink
Reinventing Axl Rose
Slurring the Rhythms
We Laugh at Danger (and Break All the Rules)