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Saints and Sinners: Day 1: live in Asbury Parklive in Asbury Park (2007)
Reviewer Rating: 2.5
Contributed by: TorgoTorgo
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Having mixed feelings over mixed drinks, I decided to go to the Saints & Sinners festival “punk day” in Asbury Park since I haven’t seen Against Me! and HORSE the Band for a while.
Agnostic Front came on next. Remember how the Casualties were able to win over the crowd? Well, Agnostic Front couldn’t. Besides the few dozen hardcore kids just there for them, they were very out of step with the rest of the crowd. “Uh oh, kids are getting kicked out for fighting. Definitely Agnostic Front fans,” Roger Miret said towards the end, speaking volumes. Not only were the hardcore kids barely receptive to the new songs, they seemed to be there solely for the songs "Crucified" and "Gotta Go." I was shocked that no one in the crowd knew "Victim in Pain" except for one or two people. Besides Roger Miret’s tough guy “family” and “crew” stuff (and Vinnie Stigma’s inability to move while playing guitar), they played satisfactorily. But as what would be the theme of the day, AF were simply not playing for the right crowd.
Hardcore kids filtered out and pop-punk kids came in. It was 9:30, about the time you realize the place has no heating system and since it’s mostly empty, there’s no way togetherness will create heat. Saves the Day came out and despite the fact I haven’t heard them for 5 years, I was hooked in. They were a delight, maybe because they were a pretty big contrast to anything else that day -- but plowing through "At Your Funeral" and a few Through Being Cool tracks, while playing expertly, helped. Their bassist Manuel seemed to be letting back on his skills, unfortunately. Their set seemed very short -- 30 minutes is an inadequate amount of time for direct support of the festival headliner, but the whole day didn’t seem to make much sense anyway.
As Against Me! were setting up, a large cloud of dust came off the freshly tapped hi-hat, prompting someone to yell “Wow, it must be cocaine!” I thought it was pretty funny. No one else did. So it began. Everyone seems to criticize the fact Against Me! plays the shit out of New Wave live. Obviously a band hitting the mainstream with their new album is going to do that; it’s a moot point and fairly ridiculous criticism. Plus, songs like "Americans Abroad" and "White People for Peace" can co-exist peacefully with their older songs.
They came out five minutes late with guns blazing, playing "Up the Cuts" and literally said zero words to the crowd the entire set. No matter what your feelings are about their song choices, no one can argue about their dynamic show with fiery playing. Their musicianship is admirable and they seemed to have just as much fun playing "Thrash Unreal" (where Tom broke his A-string in the middle of the song) as they did playing "Pints of Guinness Make You Strong." You could see song choices like "Don’t Lose Touch" and "Cliché Guevara" coming from a mile away, but they played a blistering "Walking Is Still Honest," which was a slight surprise. And the fact that "Sink, Florida, Sink" has lost none of its bringing-the-house-down-quality, it balances out say, the meandering "Animal" and the over-the-top silly "Stop!".
After they finished their set with a terrible finale choice in the form of "The Ocean," they left the stage with a smirk, with the lights not coming back on. Being that there was five minutes left in their set time, I stayed, looked back and saw half the crowd left. Conscious of my status as a reviewer, I was planning to write “The crowd trickled out, unaware or oblivious of Against Me!’s eventual encore.” Then I kept waiting. They weren’t coming back. I believe even the festival operators thought they were coming back since they kept the stage lights off, and their roadies didn’t even start taking their instruments. To be honest, I don’t even think those loveable assholes NOFX would gyp a festival crowd of 10 minutes. Not only that, but you have to assume Against Me! is backstage and can hear the 40 kids front and center screaming the words to "We Laugh at Danger (And Break All the Rules)." After a full 10 minutes, the lights went on and the instruments were taken away. I walked out more disappointed than I thought I would be while Against Me! were playing, surprised that Saves the Day was the best experience I had for my $35.
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