Against Me! - 23 Live Sex Acts (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

Against Me!

23 Live Sex Acts (2015)

Total Treble

This needed to happen. This really needed to happen. Against Me! has gone through so much as a band and released several full lengths and EP’s since their last live release, Americans Abroad!!! Against Me!!! Live in London!!!, which came out in 2006 (unless you count the Live At The Key Club film) when they were still on Fat Wreck Chords, that they were due for a new live album.

Right off the bat I have some questions about 23 Live Sex Acts. This is not advertised as a collection of tracks from different shows they played while on tour after Transgender Dysphoria Blues was released like originally speculated. According the album’s description 23 Live Sex Acts is a recording of Against Me!’s performance at the Gritty Clit in Kiev, Indiana, which took place on February 29, 2014. When researching this release for this review I couldn’t find any information about the Gritty Clit or Kiev, Indiana. Also, look at any 2014 calendar and you will not see February 29. So did this show actually happen? Or is each track from a different show like originally thought? I’m starting to believe the latter.

Regardless, this is one hell of a live album. The band managed not only record absolutely awesome versions of their songs, but they also captured the immense energy that the band brings when they perform live. If you have been to an Against Me! show, you’ll know exactly what I’m talking about. The crowd goes wild literally after every song.

Not only does Against Me! put on a fantastic show, but they know how to choose a wide ranging set list and that is also what makes 23 Live Sex Acts so great. A few songs from each of the band’s full lengths from Reinventing Axl Rose to Transgender Dysphoria Blues are on this record.

But its not just the set list and extremely well-done production that makes 23 Live Sex Acts such a great live album, there are a few alternative and even some not-so-perfect renditions of songs on it. It’s a very candid look into what can happen at an Against Me! show. For those of you who are looking forward to hearing a live version of “New Wave” the band actually stops the song about half way through to stop a security guard from kicking someone out of the show. The band just decides to move on to the next song after the dispute is over. During their performance of “Thrash Unreal” (and many of the other tunes) you can hear Laura sing the lead vocals pretty differently from the original recording. It’s really interesting to hear how she changed them up instead of mimicking the original vocals. But what makes this recording of “Thrash Unreal” special is that a random fan briefly helps out with singing the chorus. The performance of “True Trans Soul Rebel” is also different from what’s on Transgender Dysphoria Blues. The band sings “ooh’s” in between the short breaks in the main guitar riff.

There is also some good in-between-song banter, which adds a lot more character to this release. And I’m not just talking about the issue with the security guard that derailed “New Wave.” Laura asks how everyone is doing and gets an overwhelmingly good response from the audience and she is more up front and honest with her introductions to songs like “White Crosses” and especially “Pretty Girls (The Mover)” where she explains why some of the lyrics are different. But they aren’t serious all of the time. Laura and James joke about how no one can have fun and everyone has to sit down after the security guard issue right before they break into “Walking Is Still Honest.” Laura also jokes about how there should wishes that there was a slip n’ slide in the venue she would crowd surf to it right after the band finishes an electric version of “How Low.” I don’t think people seem to realize how important show banter is. It adds a lot more character and fun to a show and release like this.

Against Me! finishes this album probably the way every dedicated Against Me! fan hopes they would. And that is by playing “We Laugh At Danger And Break All The Rules.” You can just hear the whole venue going completely wild during this song. Laura and James switch off with the lead vocals during the verses and then the whole band blends the high and low vocals really well during the choruses.

All of the songs are performed on 23 Live Sex Acts are done tremendously well, especially when the band incorporates some changes to them whether they be vocal, lyrical, or instrumental. You can really get a good sense of just how hard they work to put on an awesome performance. James especially puts so much effort, not only into playing lead guitar for a majority of the songs, but also into singing the back up vocals. You really get a good sense of just how much he contributes to the band on this release in songs like “White Crosses,” “Cliché Guevara,” and “Thrash Unreal.” But again, the whole band kills it on every song on this album. Most of all you can tell that they are having a great time performing. The energy between the band and audience is palpable. There is no question that 23 Live Sex Acts is a fantastic look into the exuberant chaos that is an Against Me! show.