There are few bands that I am completely in love with anymore. Most of my favorites have had their downs as well as their mighty ups, and many have disappeared into the abyss of hiatuses or reunion shows. Against Me! has yet to let me down, be it on record or in person, and I'm thankful for that. Sunday night's bizarre amalgamation of sasscore heroes The Blood Brothers and roots punk folk stallions Against Me! along with a valiant attempt at angular-ish hardcore by True North and a synth revival by DOD served up a healthy heaping of diversity and talent that is a hard package to beat for 10 bucks.
As we walked up, we found out that the show was already sold out, as the mass of bodies outside the Great American Music Hall should have told us. Getting in was fairly painless, and we meandered around, bumping into Warren from Against Me!. DOD took the stage pretty quickly after the scheduled start time (something I'm not quite used to) and began their onslaught of dancy Le Tigre-esque synth punk pop. Fronted by two young women (I'm not going to call a band who sounds like Le Tigre girls...) backed by two young men on guitar and drums, they entertained us through their 20 minute set. The highlight of their set was watching the aforementioned bearded drummer of AM! "raise the roof" to their set. The other highlight was the amazing amount of energy that these folks had. It was pretty incredible, considering their obvious youth and "small band" status. Girl #1 Gaelan referred us all to their myspace page, which apparently serves as their homepage as well. They are worth checking out if you are into either some of the dancier indie rock that's been coming out, or the post-riot grrrl rumblings of The Striped Cat.
True North took the stage with a presence to rival that of....a chihuahua. Not that their songs are filled with noise and intensity (which they are), they just had very little confidence in the songs while they were up there. The music itself sounded confused. I definitely think that these Gainesville natives are big fans of Hot Water Music, and have similar intentions for their music. It just doesn't come across live. The songs sounded incredibly sloppy, and when the lyrics were decipherable, I wished that they had stayed unintelligible. I can honestly say that we will eventually see a quality performance and body of music from these folks, but they need to figure out what it is that they want to play and figure out how to play it. WIthout a rhythm section driving that kind of hardcore, it gets repetitive and bland, inspiring hecklers like the tough guy/girls behind me to start yelling. Maybe next time.
Seattle, Washington's spastic, hip, and flagrantly effeminate rockers came up next. I'm not a huge fan of the Blood Brothers, but I appreciate the odd talent that goes into their music. It's something to craft start stop hardcore songs with piano and synth with lyrics about teenage pregnancy and abortion while appealing to 15 year old girls. It's not my thing, but I can (kind of) see why people enjoy it. The most impressive part of their set was how obviously tight the band is musically. This type of spastic-core is something that if played sloppily, could come out sounding like a synth falling in a blender. Luckily, the entire band seems to be incredibly talented and carried through their sound into the live setting quite well. Several songs from their new disc Crimes were played, which are all noticeably more relaxed and less spastic than previous songs and albums. Fans were even given a chance to pick up the album directly from the band at the show, before it came out in stores.
Sitting on the front of the stage, sweat soaked and waiting for Against Me! I couldn't help but worry if the crowd was there for the Bloods or AM!. After all, the scene swoop-hairs were in amazing affect all over the floor and I couldn't spot many folks who appeared to be there just for our boys from Florida. Boy was I wrong. From the start of "Cliche Guevara," it was obvious that everyone who was left in the club loved them like fat kids love cake. The band ripped through an ad-libbed set list including the aforementioned track, "Sink.Florida.Sink," "Those Anarcho-Punks...," "Baby, I'm An Anarchist," "You Look Like I Need A Drink," "The Disco Before the Breakdown," "Reinventing Axl Rose," and pretty much everything in between. They closed with "We Laugh At Danger," and did a two song encore of "TSR" and "Walking is Still Honest." Everything in between was just amazing. I last saw this band in Bernie's In Columbus, where the crowd was overrunning them, and I couldn't believe the amount of energy and tightness then. That was nothing compared to Sunday.
This was a band on fire. A band with something to say, and a short time to do so. They played hard, fast and perfect. Taking time to graciously thank us, toast each other with a shot, and for Tom to give a nice speech about how you should approach the whole voting issue. The gist was that regardless of what you're doing, you should know why you are voting or aren't voting. Another refreshing speech from a performer, especially considering Fat Mike was waiting in the wings watching. All in all, I couldn't have asked for a better performance.
The concert was a great deal. 10 bucks for Against Me! alone would have been worth it, but adding in the hilarity of DOD and the peculiarity of The Blood Brothers was some nice icing. You know, the sugary kind on the Dairy Queen cakes of your childhood. The only problem was that True North just isn't quite the band that they want to be yet. I say go see this tour, and cheer all the bands on though. They all pour their hearts into it, and are great folks.