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Anti-Flag / the Casualties / the Unseen

Anti-Flag / the Casualties / the Unseen: live in New Yorklive in New York (2006)
Sony Music Entertainment

Reviewer Rating: 3.5


Contributed by: InaGreendaseBrian
(others by this writer | submit your own)

Anti-Flag's first official headlining tour in support of their major label debut; does the backlash start here? The AKAs seemed appropriate openers. They've always reminded me of middle era (International) Noise Conspiracy with a more limited spectrum of influence; the live show didn't differ muc.


Anti-Flag's first official headlining tour in support of their major label debut; does the backlash start here?

The AKAs seemed appropriate openers. They've always reminded me of middle era (International) Noise Conspiracy with a more limited spectrum of influence; the live show didn't differ much. Despite mic problems, the singer had solid stage presence, strutting around and culling the audience into a few handclaps and shouts. The keyboardist seemed a little bored, but the music admittedly would've seemed a bit incomplete without her layer of notes. They played selections from White Doves & Smoking Guns, the only two of which I remember including "Shout Out Loud" and "Every Great Western."

Smoke or Fire was probably the band I was looking forward to seeing the most. Judging from this set, they're a band who I find myself enjoying with every passing show, even as all 3 have now been in rather large clubs (sole openers for Me First & the Gimme Gimmes at Irving Plaza, Fat Wreck tour with Against Me! at Webster Hall, and now here back at Irving Plaza). They basically played a near-perfect set. Granted I would've liked to hear a new one since a followup to Above the City is promised later this year, but they otherwise played every song I wanted to hear. The band always has just enough energy to propel the songs into ideal sing-along territory. "California's Burning" couldn't have been a more appropriate opener, with the ragged chords turning a few heads in the young audience, while the emotional breakdown of "50 Cent Hearts" bookended it beautifully. Fantastic set, especially since I'm almost positive they really did play ELEVEN songs. ELEVEN.
[in no order]

  • California's Burning [opener]
  • Filter
  • Cops and Drugs
  • Culture as Given
  • Delawhere
  • Loving, Self-Loathing
  • Fire Escapes
  • Southpaw
  • Point Break
  • Sunday Pints
  • 50 Cent Hearts [closer]
I then retreated to the back to watch the closing 3 bands from a fair distance. When the screen rose and disclosed full view of the stage, the fashionably sensible bunch known as the Unseen were standing in front of their huge backdrop (the cover of State of Discontent). I actually somewhat like the Unseen, owning their last 2 full-lengths. The discs may not find their way into my CD player often, but the band writes decent streetpunk without many of the genre's outright clichés, while singer Mark Unseen has always sounded bratty enough to give the band a necessary youthful exuberance. They had a surprisingly big fanbase there; the circle pit towards the rear middle end did not stop spinning for the entirety of the set. And towards the front twas many a sing-along. Not a terrible set, which included opener "Weapons of Mass Destruction," "Scream Out," and "False Hope."

Oof...okay, only a select number of people have any idea why writing this paragraph is really, really awkward for me, but here goes nothing. The Casualties then played. This was probably the one band I had the least interest in seeing, but I tried to watch with an open mind. Sounded like streetpunk to me with a few, uh, iffy traits. Their fanbase was quite ridiculous, and they also incited a near-constant circle pit; it lagged a bit in the middle of the set, but seemed to renew interest with the Ramones' tribute song "Made in NYC," following it with a pretty solid cover of "Blitzkrieg Bop." I can tell you they also played "Media Control" and "Punx Unite" (you know, "IF THE PUNX / ARE UNITED / THEY WILL NEVER / BE DIVIDED"). The one guitarist's electric green mohawk gave off a pretty cool effect in the blacklight, so props for that. I might've actually gotten some enjoyment out of it not for Jorge's voice; boy does that grate on you after a song or so.

Now, I've always enjoyed Anti-Flag (and by always, I mean the last 3-4 years). I even prefer their newer albums over the beloved, poppy streetpunk era, even while I realized the course they were taking may one day end up somewhat compromising those vehement beliefs. But tonight, something changed, in a good way; my respect for the band grew admirably as I came to finally realize what the band was about.

I recently wrapped up reading Let Fury Have the Hour, a book edited and compiled by Antonino D'Ambrosio that includes a number of articles taking an in-depth look at the life, work, and influence of Joe Strummer, with a heavy portion of the book obviously dedicated to the time in his life spent in the Clash. Among the themes throughout the book conveyed was the fact that Strummer was firmly "anti-intellectual." He preferred to raise awareness not through overtly highbrowed diatribes, but through more accessible pieces of social and political analysis, messages that the common folk could listen and relate to. Also recently I've noticed our good friend and site editor Aubin make emphatic mention of just how Clash-influenced Anti-Flag is; I initially scoffed a little at these statements. However, after reading a recent interview with band member Chris, who's sure to admit he believes the band's role as a gateway drug is more prominent than anything, and seeing the band myself live once more, it makese sense. Anti-Flag may not draw from the same far-reaching musical spectrum and breadth of influence as the Clash once did, but in writing these simple, uber-catchy pop-punk songs, they congregate the common folk of these days -- folk in this case being kids -- in hopes of raising political awareness and rallying them into active social duty, as these folk may have no inspiration otherwise. And this is all fully intentioned. Sure, there's still sporadic sloganeering ("War Sucks, Let's Party!"), but it's part of what draws those folk in.

As well, A-F had a table set up with a number of petitions, with Military-Free Zone.org being the largely supported highlight, which lets you opt out of the military accessing personal information through your school for recruitment purposes. Therein lied physical proof the band attempts social change and positive unrest themselves.

The set itself seemed very raw musically, but it worked well. The fans seemed to respond nicely to the newer songs, which included the excellent "I'd Tell You But...," "The Press Corpse," "This Is the End (For You My Friend)," "1 Trillion Dollar$," and "War Sucks, Let's Party!." The band dipped into their back catalog for favorites like "911 for Peace," "Spaz's House Destruction Party" (I believe this was the song where one member forced the band to stop playing until one physically crushed fan up front had breathing room), "Die for the Government" of course, "Turncoat," "Rank-N-File," "You Can Kill the Protestor, But You Can't Kill the Protest," "Fuck Police Brutality" (opener), "Got the Numbers," "This Machine Kills Fascists," and "Underground Network." Again, the band seemed to play rather raw, but I suppose that is the essence of punk rock. They encouraged the crowd to sign the petitions and get active, reinforcing my point.

Outside of a few barely audible off-hand comments between friends (something about selling out to Clear Channel as mentioned by some nearby attendees), there was not a word of heckling and a wealthy number in attendance. So I suppose if there's any backlash, it's quite minimal.

Hopefully those dizzying themselves in the revolutions of circle pits are given the inspiration to participate in metaphorical ones. I think if even 1 make that transition, the band's succeeded.

 

 
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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
miff (May 22, 2006)

i hate people who go to gigs just to stand at the back casually tapping theri foot n trying to look cool

Anonymous (May 18, 2006)

The AKAs are one of the worst bands ever... it makes my ears bleed.

Anonymous (May 18, 2006)

"But New Kind Of Army sucks. This is one band that should stick to their new stuff."

Their new stuff is nothing compared to their old stuff. I went to this show. This reviewer is stupid. The Unseen and The Casualties are great. Best Show Ever for sure. And the Mosh pit is the best part of the whole show.

Anonymous (April 21, 2006)

why is it always this way

Anonymous (April 20, 2006)

The working name for this tour is "SucktoberFEST!"

LifeoftheParty (April 20, 2006)

why do people care so much that their on a major? they didn't change their music, and it's even better now. the real posers are the ones who care so much about them signing, and not giving them a chance.

Anonymous (April 20, 2006)

"this is 2006. its ok for a punk band to be on a major label. its not THAT big of a fucking deal."

1. No, no its not okay, and it is that big of a deal.
2. Why is it that people who get all huffy puffy when people like me call out poser bands like Anti-Flag or Casualties always seem to cite that they came from the DIY scene, yet seem to not really know what that means or actually entails? Maybe if you had a punk bone in your body, you'd actually get involved with the scene instead of acting like apologists to hypocrites and sellouts.

skolarx (April 20, 2006)

best thing about an anti-flag show? no smoking
worst thing about an anti-flag show? anti-flag fans

Scruffy (April 20, 2006)

"but really should've...played more than 1 song off new kind of army."

But New Kind Of Army sucks. This is one band that should stick to their new stuff.

MikeStupid (April 20, 2006)

"punx unite is a sham 69 "cover"(if the kids, are united/they will never, be divided)"

Actually it's not, those lines are the only part of the song that's from Sham 69. The rest is totally different.

rkl (April 19, 2006)

as i gradually edge towards getting blacklisted from this site, i have to point out that punx unite is a sham 69 "cover"(if the kids, are united/they will never, be divided).
really, i expect a fuck of a lot better.

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

Propagandhi should've headlined. They're better anyways

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

I love Smoke or Fire...they remind me a lot of Avail, and a faster version of old HWM...above the city is fucking great. Short, fast, uptempo punk with some great vocals

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

pretty good show, nice review. the akas were a good opener, smoke or fire is a great band and put on a great set. the unseen were pretty good, and i don't much care for the casualties but you really can't argue with a large glowing neon green mohawk! as for ant-flag, good set overall but really should've talked less and played more than 1 song off new kind of army. and im pretty sure the guys heckling about clear channel, were my friends, who like anti-flag but just like to be assholes.

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

ok, wats the deal here? why is it that every time a band goes major label, someone is here to bitch about it? so fucking what?! this isnt the 80s, when punk was all underground, this is 2006. its ok for a punk band to be on a major label. its not THAT big of a fucking deal. i agree with some people that say they get worse as they get older on a major label. i love the casualties. but on the front line, while being an ok album that i listen to frequently, isnt their best. perosnally i think underground army was. and that was when they were on an independent label. the unseen's state of discontent, is great. but not as good as the old stuff, pre-epitaph. as for anti-flag, i love their new album on a major label, its fucking harsh. i enjoy it more than their old stuff. none of these bands are bad, just not as good as they used to be. and being on a major label doesnt have THAT much to do with it, so drop that battle. and yeah, some great punk bands are on independent labels, such as the artists on punkcore records. i listen to almost every one of those bands on that label. and i like them just as much as any major label punk band. i would have loved to come out to this show

danperrone (April 19, 2006)

wtf i thought this was PUNKnews.org

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

"
both the unseen and the casualties have been around since the early to mid 90s and have been touring their asses off for over a decade to get the popularity they have now. they've toured with legendary punk bands and did the whole DIY routine to get way they are. Just cause they're popular now, they're posers? So are the Broken Bones and The Varukers posers too cause they play music that you don't like?

go back to listening to your anberlin and metalcore shit"

Yeah they did the DIY thing then sold out to major labels. Thanks for suggesting that I like metalcore just because I called out antiflag and the casualties. Nice fucking argument, there champ.

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

Hahaha, Brian and The Casualties = BFF's.

- P-Fresh

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

Just because bands suck does not equate them to posers.

both the unseen and the casualties have been around since the early to mid 90s and have been touring their asses off for over a decade to get the popularity they have now. they've toured with legendary punk bands and did the whole DIY routine to get way they are. Just cause they're popular now, they're posers? So are the Broken Bones and The Varukers posers too cause they play music that you don't like?

go back to listening to your anberlin and metalcore shit

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

Capitalist Casualties tour this July, celebrating their 20th anniversary. Get ready to have your faces ripped off.

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

""Poser show of the year. At least the reviewer caught the opening acts"

what does this even mean? fuck, do i hate people like you."

All the bands suck and the entire thing was just one big waste of resources. Is it that hard to figure out?

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

"So I'm reading a Dave Grohl biography and it mentions Nirvana opening for "a band of teenagers called the Unseen" who just play rock covers, any song you mention. Is this our street punk friends or just another Unseen?"

Seattle is pretty far from Boston.

Anonymous (April 19, 2006)

"Poser show of the year. At least the reviewer caught the opening acts"

what does this even mean? fuck, do i hate people like you.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

this review was fuckin dumb.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

Poser show of the year. At least the reviewer caught the opening acts.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

"Has anybody ever seen Smoke or Fire not open with California's Burning?"
They didn't open with it in San Diego. I think they played it 3rd or 4th.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

does anyone actually really like the casualties?

score is for smoke or fire.

Scruffy (April 18, 2006)

Also, the new Anti-Flag is freaking awesome. If anyone's refusing to listen to it, or simply wary, because it's Anti-Flag, give it a try. That's the boat I was in. I kinda wondered if they were good now after hearing "Turncoat" and "School Of Assassins" from their last album's sessions.
They are good. They're awesome. This is the last thing I ever expected to say, but Anti-Flag is sweet.

Scruffy (April 18, 2006)

""Would people really pay $15-20 to just to heckle Anti-Flag?"

I did"

You know, you could give me that money, and I'd actually enjoy them, and I could promise to heckle them for you by proxy.

Or you could give me that money anyway, seeing as how you're obviously made of it.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

smoke or fire=generic

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

Where is the NOFX review? :D

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

"Would people really pay $15-20 to just to heckle Anti-Flag?"

I did

sickboi (April 18, 2006)

Brian -

Maybe I should have phrased that better. Both of those bands have paid their dues, and hell, I even enjoy some of the Unseen's stuff (LOVE "Scream Out"), but Smoke or Fire deserve more than such a low spot on the bill. And its not like they are gonna gain many more fans from the crowd at this show. 2 completely different scenes.

That said, how did "Loving, Self-Loathing" sound? I love that song.

sickboi (April 18, 2006)

They didn't play "Loving"....they never have. At least that's what I was told straight from the source...

inagreendase (April 18, 2006)

And its a fucking shame Smoke or Fire has to open for the Unseen and the Casualties...

Not really. I prefer SOF way over both of those bands, but Unseen and Casualties have paid their dues on the road for a long, long time and gained the necessary fanbase along the way.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

about what smoke or fire opens with, in richmond, i've seen them open with "delawhere" and "culture as given"
i want to say at the last show in richmond where they headlined, they played "loving, self loathing" but i might be off.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

"So I suppose if there's any backlash, it's quite minimal."

Would people really pay $15-20 to just to heckle Anti-Flag?

dietcokeofpunk (April 18, 2006)

should mention that i do have and like the sof cd...

dietcokeofpunk (April 18, 2006)

i saw sof on the fat tour...wasn't that impressed, but then again i like the unseen and the casualties. which puts me in the minority on this site.

sickboi (April 18, 2006)

And its a fucking shame Smoke or Fire has to open for the Unseen and the Casualties...

sickboi (April 18, 2006)

HOLY SHIT. They played "Loving, Self-Loathing"?!?!?!?!?

Joe told me they were working on trying to play it live, but I didn't know they actually had started including it in their sets.

This lineup is hilarious. Smoke or Fire is SOOOOOO out of place. Not enough black leather and studs.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

For the best book on the Ramones read,
"On The Road With The Ramones"
http://www.ontheroadwiththeramones.com

This is a MUST-HAVE book for all Ramones fans. It's an inside look from the people who were actually there witnessing and experiencing all the extreme highs and lows of one of rock's greatest bands. The Ramones' music has influenced nearly every power pop, punk, alternative, and metal band. Monte A. Melnick served as The Ramones tour manager from their early New York club days at CBGB's in the '70s to their farewell gigs in 1996. Filled with memorabilia including photographs and interviews collected along the way, this is his view of life on the road with the band as "baby-sitter to psychiatrist, booking agent to travel agent, paymaster to van driver." It's such a fascinating read, you'll have a hard time putting it down. Buy it, read it, and then revisit their albums. You'll never look at the Ramones in the same light.

ThreeChordsAndTheTruth (April 18, 2006)

So I'm reading a Dave Grohl biography and it mentions Nirvana opening for "a band of teenagers called the Unseen" who just play rock covers, any song you mention. Is this our street punk friends or just another Unseen?

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

This review was really hard to read.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

Score is for:
1) Like the dude below me said, the new Sick Of It All
2) For Blood and Empire
3) Cheese dogs.

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

The new Sick Of It All is the fucking shit

MikeStupid (April 18, 2006)

I was going to write a review of the Salt Lake City stop for this tour purely because of the sheer awesomeness that went down during Anti-Flag's set. I'll just tell the story here.

So this fat kid ended up onstage between songs and he grabbed the mic away from Justin and yelled something that sounded like "fuck America, fuck Bush! Is anybody here from New Zealand?" And then he wouldn't go away. He just stayed up there onstage for a good 5 minutes, looking close to exhaustion and asking if anyone was from New Zealand over and over. Justin told him to do a stagedive and they even gave him a nice drumroll, but he didn't fucking leave! Instead, he asked Justin "what am I supposed to do?" It was fucking priceless. Later on, he turned up onstage again to ask if anyone had seen one of his shoes.

Score is for that guy.

fistchode (April 18, 2006)

(the point being to make the world a better place for everyone in anyway possible, and not saying that "my band saves the world more than your band does")

jamespastepunk (April 18, 2006)

Just to get this out of the way, a comparison between Propoghandi and Anti-Flag is missing the point.

Show sounds great.

SalsaShark (April 18, 2006)

SoF are such a bunch of fuckers. I was told they wouldn't play "Loving, Self-Loathing" on this tour. And what the fuck, now they did. I sure hope you are sure they played that.

It's ok. I still love them dearly.

BTown (April 18, 2006)

Has anybody ever seen Smoke or Fire not open with California's Burning?

badmouth (April 18, 2006)

love the use of the word vehement in both or your reviews

Anonymous (April 18, 2006)

this tour would be so much better if brothers keeper opened.

yeah i said it.

kingofpain (April 18, 2006)

I didn't get to make it out to this tour, but I did go to a show Smoke or Fire, The Unseen, and The Casualties played a few days before this tour started. Smoke or Fire was fucking great, The Unseen was pretty good, and I left a few songs into The Casualties' set.

Godfather (April 18, 2006)

score is for anti-flag preaching when they could have been playing "that's youth"

colin (April 18, 2006)

i was pretty upset i missed this tour, but those are lame fucking tracks for antiflag to play from the new album. one trillion dollars is a worthless track, and i'd hate to hear it live in place of "new american century" or "depleted uranium"

score is for smoke or fire kicking ass

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