It should've taken an hour to get from downtown Providence to the Avalon in Boston. But no one told me and my buddy that you're supposed to follow the opposite direction of every sign pointing to Fenway Park.
Thanks to our driving time getting doubled, I completely missed New Mexican Disaster Squad's set (sorry guys), and what I'm sure was the first half of None More Black's set, according to one source in the crowd anyway.
After making a quick transaction for NMDS's self-titled full-length, I rushed into the room in the middle of "Banned from Teen Arts," which sounded great. I moved up after the next song and watched Jason and Co. play hard, fast, and bounding with energy. Most people's "abstract complaint" about the full-length was washed away. As the set finished, I confirmed with someone about them playing "Dinner's for Suckers" and "Everyday Balloons" during my absence, and then proceded to stab myself in the eye.
So with half my vision gone, Against Me! took the stage. It seemed like maybe they had similar vision distortion too - but in their case, as a result of alcohol consumption. Besides encouraging the crowd to flip them off, throw shit at them, and to seriously rethink one person's request to "suck a dick," the band also asked us to substitute a dancing / ass-shakingly good time for the moshing, pushing-each-other-around thing; and shake the crowd did. Even the grey-haired crowd control guy was getting into it. With quite the following, it turned out to be an incredibly anthemic set, a practical barroom singalong every song, but most notably "Cliche Guevara." The way they broke down one particular song was the most intense thing I've seen in memory next to Murder by Death.
After Rise Against finished setting up, the house lights went black. They walked back onto the stage, picked up their instruments and went right into "Black Masks & Gasoline," with Tim flying all over the stage. This song, one other, and "1000 Good Intentions" were all executed nicely, but it seemed like the band wasn't completely together yet. Plus, Aubin's review came to mind when I realized that Tim's vocals weren't completely audible. Once he picked up his guitar though, everything started to meld together. There was very little in-between banter, if any at all. An even more aggressive overtone gave songs like "Dead Ringer," "Heaven Knows," "Halfway There," "Broken Sense," "Like the Angel," "Voices Off Camera," "Amber Changing," "Six Ways 'Til Sunday," and "Faint Resemblance" an even stronger gloss. A new song they played but didn't mention the title of -- presumably off their upcoming Dreamworks debut -- had verses definitely reminiscent of The Unraveling, but a "whoaaaaa-oo-whoa"-laden chorus that reminded me of Strike Anywhere; and I'm never one to make that comparison between the two. I was surprised not to hear "Alive and Well," but all in all, a fluent set.
Now, say what you will about Anti-Flag, but they put together solid tour packages (see here, here, here, here, or here). They also put on a great show, playing tight, hard, fast, passionate, dedicated, [adverb]. Mocking police sirens blared through the air against a black stage, and aural quotes from both the left and the right (wings) filled the speakers. A-F took the stage and perpetrated the middle finger salute with the relatively mindless but fun "Fuck Police Brutality." Its follower, "Tearing Down the Borders," sounded as caustic as ever. The band paid homage by giving props to Woody Guthrie as one of their big influences before playing his "Post-War Breakout" for a good mood change-up. Delving right into "Angry, Young, & Poor" right after picked up the pace nicely. After all these years, it's obvious Justin still gets a kick out seeing people sing along and throw their fists. They also encouraged anyone who was of age to register to vote, but seemed to isolate this point from their Bush bashing, maybe to help get across a more important message, at that moment anyway, of just plain making a difference than biased action. Their message of peace also does get acrosss, too; after a slight altercation between two kids at one point, they took it upon themselves after the song to shake hands and apologize. A rousing encore of "Turncoat" and "Die for the Government" finished the night.
Set list (from the paper & accurate):
Got the Numbers
Stars & Stripes
Death of a Nation
Mind the GATT
Rank & File
Die For The Government